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ACOM 2311 - Intro to Communication Research

Step 1. Research Question or Thesis Statement

At this point you have completed the annotated bibliography. The next step (if you haven't already done so) is to determine a specific area of focus relating to your topic. In order to find that focus point you will need to write out your research question or thesis statement. 

Step 2. Create Outline & Take Notes

  • Everyone will do this step in a slightly different manner. Do what works best for you. The notes you take here should be based on your research question and/or thesis statement. These steps are a building block process and should be done in order listed on this page for you to successfully write and communicate your thoughts. Make sure you complete the research question or thesis statement before taking notes, as this will help to keep you focused and save time; you don't want to waste time take notes on information if it does not relate to your specific focus. 
  • Some find it helpful to draft an outline first. Depending on the way you feel more comfortable organizing your thoughts, the outline may be a good piece to complete first. Others find that taking notes first will then allow them to transfer this to an outline and then move to the paper writing process.

The information you found in the research process and note taking step will primarily be used in your literature review:  

Explore the How to Write a Literature Review tab 

The video below will help you sift through each academic article and locate relevant information for your notes and eventually the actual paper itself.

Step 3. Draft the Paper

  • After you take notes and organize your thoughts, establishing arguments, etc. format your paper in the correct style, and include the major headings. For APA style papers you may not yet know exactly the different sub-headings (seriations)  under each heading, and that's okay.
    • when writing you may notice that a particular heading has a lot of elements and may need seriations beneath it. the Method heading is typically a part of the paper that reguires seriations beneath it.
    • For example: 


                              Research Design

                              Research Site




  • If you have to write an abstract, do this portion last as it is a summary of all of the other elements of the paper..

  • Taking notes should align closely with the Annotated Bibliography, because you should have already summarized the source content, evaluated whether or not it was useful for your topic, and reflected on the author's research and how it relates to your research.

  • Where the writing process begins depends on what method works best for you. Starting with either the Method or the Literature Review (see the tab on How to Write a Literature Review) section may be a more logical process than writing in order from the Introduction to the Conclusion. The Literature Review and the Method are closely tied because you should have found sources that relate specifically to your research topic.


Main sections of an academic article:

  • Abstract- summary of the article
  • Introduction- background information on the study and why the study was conducted, and other pertinent information
  • Literature Review- summarized  & analyze relevant research that has been conducted on the topic/subject
  • Method (qualitative, quantitative, etc. for original research)- research design and reasons for that particular design
  • Results/Findings-outcomes from the study etc.
  • Discussion/Limitations-important elements of the study worth noting, what worked well, what didn't and reasons why etc.
  • Conclusion- summary of the overall study/research