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Speech 101: How to Search for Information

Preparing to search for information

Write your Research Statement

Let's say you decide to focus on the war on crime as a speech topic.

What are the actions that have been taken to combat crime? Do the same actions work in combating all kinds of crime? Do the same actions work in combating crime in all areas? Has crime gone down consistently since the "war on crime" began? What are the economic impacts of the war on crime? What are the social impacts of the war on crime? Is there a racial element to the war on crime? Is there a class element to the war on crime?

Think about your topic and what you want to know about it. Compose a question to guide you in your research process. A research question for this topic could be: How has the war on crime effected different economic classes differently?

This question provides focus as you begin your research. You may change or refine your research question as you learn more about your topic.

Pick out the concepts within that topic

Concept 1 Concept 2 Concept 3
War on Crime Economic Classes Effects

Define keywords for each of your concepts

Look for synonyms, broader terms, and narrower terms.

Concept 1 Concept 2 Concept 3
War on crime Economic classes Effects
policing Socioeconomic classes felon rate (this might be a specific effect)
criminal justice Upper class economic impact
  Rich employability
  Wealthy  

Choose the terms you want to begin searching

Choose a database and begin searching

Record the way you search for later reference

Refer to your previous searches and keep searching

You should constantly be refining your searches and searching for more literature. The only thing that ends this search is the conclusion of the project!

Speeches - Watch Others for Inspiration

Other Useful Databases

The CQ Researcher gives a great overview of a topic of current interest. Published since 1923, each issue focuses on one issue of interest at the time it was published. This resource can help you find a topic as well as serve as a great source for your research. Be aware of the date of publication, especially if you are supposed to use a current topic for your speech.


Briggs Library also has many subject specific databases that may be of interest. The best way to find those is to use our subject guides to identify the various databases that are good for a particular discipline. Use the search box below to search your department or college.

Librarian for Communication Studies & Theatre

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