A semester's worth of research topics

Event.pngAt a loss for a research topic? Look no further than your calendar for ideas and inspiration.
Current event databases like Issues and Controversies and CQ Researcher offer timely topics in their extensive reports which feature compelling research questions, pro & con perspectives, and thorough bibliographies.


African American History Month:
Affirmative Action: Are affirmative action programs necessary to make up for past discrimination?
Slavery Reparations: Should the government provide reparations to the descendants of slaves?
Confederate Monuments: Is it appropriate for states to display monuments to the Confederacy?

National Entrepreneurship Week:
Manufacturing Jobs: Should the U.S. government bolster the manufacturing sector?
The Gig Economy: Is the trend toward non-staff employees good for workers?


Women's History Month:
Women's Rights and Sexual Harassment: Are Further Steps Necessary to Ensure Gender Equality?
Women in Leadership: Can women achieve true equality?
#MeToo: Will the latest charges lead to a shift in corporate culture?,

Dominican Baseball Academies: Do Dominican baseball academies provide young players a path out of poverty?


World Health Day (April 7):
Health Care Reform: Has the Affordable Care Act improved health care in the United States?
Heart Screening for High School Athletes: Should all high school athletes undergo heart screening?
Obesity: Is it a disease or a lifestyle problem?

Earth Day (April 22):
Climate Change: Should the U.S. government take aggressive steps to address climate change?
Climate Change and National Security: Will extreme weather lead to more global conflict?
Autism Awareness Month: Diagnosing Autism: Should autism be diagnosed in children under the age of three?


International Workers' Day (May 1):
Unions and Labor Law: Are labor unions still necessary safeguards against worker exploitation?
Federal Minimum Wage: Is the federal minimum wage good for the economy?

Choose Privacy Week:
High-Tech Policing: Are new surveillance technologies effective and legal?
Social Networking and Privacy: Should the U.S. government mandate privacy rules for social networking sites?
Privacy and the Internet: Should Americans have a “right to be forgotten”?

Speech 1100 Presentation Research


Evaluate all of your sources for:
   • Currency - the timeliness of the information
   • Relevance - the importance of the information for your needs
   • Accuracy - the reliability and correctness of the information
   • Authority - the source of the information
   • Purpose - the reason the information exists

Resources to help you evaluate your sources
   • Evaluating Sources -
   • CRAAP Sources workshops (schedule

Resources to help you research
   • CQ Researcher and Issues & Controversies -
   • Speech Research Basics -
   • Finding Evidence -
   • Researching Current Events and Controversial Topics -
   • Persuasive Speech Research: Organizational Methods and Evidence tutorial -
   • Google It workshops (see current schedule)
   • Persuasive Speech workshops (see current schedule)

Oral Citations

As you present your speech, you will need to provide information about your sources:
   • Who/What - author or title
   • When - date of publication

Resources to help you prepare an oral citation
   • Oral Citation Basics -
   • Oral Citations workshops (see current schedule)

Annotated Bibliography

Your annotated bibliography will include MLA citations and short descriptive and evaluative paragraphs about each source. Include one or more sentences that:
   • evaluate the authority or background of the author
   • comment on the intended audience
   • compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or
   • explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic

Resources to help you create an annotated bibliography
   • Citing Sources: MLA -
   • Online Bibliography Managers -
   • How to Create an Annotated Bibliography -

Additional Assistance

The Library and Speech Assistance Center are freely available resources on campus where you can get help with every step of preparing your presentations.
Ask a Librarian -
   • Visit the Reference Desk
   • Schedule a research appointment
   • Email a librarian
   • Chat online

Speech Assistance Center
   • Schedule an appointment with a coach - in person or online
   • Watch Speech Assistance video tutorials
   • Attend a Speech Assistance workshop

Make an Appointment with a Librarian

LaptopSleep_Consult.jpgDon't spend hours on what a librarian can help you with in minutes!
Starting this semester, COD students, faculty and staff may schedule one-on-one appointments with librarians for help with research and using the Library's resources - just look for the sign-up button throughout the Library website.

For more information, visit

image credit: Danny

Schedule an Appointment with a Librarian

Research appointment logo

Getting frustrated with your research project?

Don't spend hours on what a librarian can help you with in minutes - schedule an appointment with a COD librarian!

COD students, faculty and staff may schedule one-on-one appointments for help with research and using the Library's resources - just look for the sign-up button throughout the Library website.

Don't see a time that works for you?

  1. Ask for help at the Reference Desk
  2. Call, email or chat with a librarian by visiting
  3. Contact your subject librarian
Image credit: Steven Worster

Research Basics

reseach process

What is research? How do you get started?

Research isn't a step-by-step checklist, but a map that has you retrace your steps from time to time.

  1. Develop a Research Plan: Understand your assignment and think about the steps you need to take to complete it
  2. Do Background Research: What are the possibilities for your topic? How can you begin to organize your thoughts? How “big” is your topic?
  3. Planning: Set a Search Strategy: Think about where you will look for information, what terms you’ll use, what resources will be most helpful. Save time by planning ahead.
  4. Find Sources: Look in the right places for the best possible sources to support your research.
  5. Evaluate Sources: Select the most appropriate and best quality sources for your research
  6. Put it Together: Incorporate your research into your own work and avoid plagiarizing by citing your sources.

Helpful Resources for Every Stage

Your instructor: use your instructor's office hours; check-in at different stages of your research; ask questions
The Library: visit the Reference Desk; make an appointment with a Librarian; call, email or IM the Library

The following presentation will introduce you to the Research Process and provide you with the resources (people, places, websites) that can help you throughout every step of the way.
Click the gear icon at the bottom of the presentation to see the Notes.


FAQ: Develop a Research Plan

Getting started before you even begin doing your searching


Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQ) concerning developing research plans:

The Library has some books that you can check out. Some series that are good Pearson's A Short Guide to Writing About...(list your class subject here) series. You can search the catalog for those. You can also search the catalog for "research paper" in order to see more general guides. You can also contact a reference librarian online or in person at the reference desk to get good titles.

You can also use the following websites for step-by-step assistance:

First, check the assignment. Then ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can you tie the question into your major somehow or another interest you have?
  • Think about the research question, or thesis: How long is the assignment? A 5 page assignment will not give you enough space to write about the causes of climate change. You might be able to address the effects of climate change on the migratory patterns of animals, however.

Back to the beginning


FAQ: Putting All Your Research Together

Bringing it all together


Check out the writing tutoring at the Learning Commons.

There are a couple of tools you can use, such as:

  • The library guide to citing sources
  • You can use NoodleBib. (Be sure to create an account the first time you log in.)
  • Have a trickier question? Consult the MLA, APA, or Turabian style manual, which you can find in the catalog, or ask a reference librarian for help, and they can consult a style manual for you.

Check with your instructor to make sure that your paper falls within acceptable guidelines.

You can also look at Harvard's guide to Plagiarism.

Back to the beginning


FAQ: Evaluate Your Sources

Did you want to base your reputation on that source?


  • How old is the material? (Does that matter?)
  • Who is the author and what is their expertise? College degree? Life experience? Intense interest?
  • What is the purpose of the book?
  • How does the information in the book or article compare to that you’ve found in other sources?
Remember that you are establishing your credibility by the way you use and describe your sources. Be certain that you’re proud of the effort you’ve put into your paper.

Look at our library guide to evaluating websites.

Remember that you are establishing your credibility by the way you use and describe your sources. Be certain that you’re proud of the effort you’ve put into your paper.

Back to the beginning


FAQ: Find Your Sources

Where might you find your sources and how might you find them?


  • Click on the Catalog link at the top of the library page.
  • Enter at least 2 keywords in the catalog.
  • If you get no results, check your spelling. If that’s correct, try searching under your most important keyword only.
  • Look at the results that come up, and find the best book or DVD that matches your topic.
  • Write down the call number, location, and notice the status of the book, DVD, or CD. Head to the reference desk in the library to learn how to physically locate the book.
  • Look at the call numbers of all the items listed. Are they all in the same range? If so, you might want to head directly to that shelf to browse through the items.
  • Do a title or a call number search in the Library Catalog for the item that you want.
  • Bring up the item that you want on the screen and click on the REQUEST button that appears at the top of the page.
  • Log in with your last name and library card number.
  • Fill out the request form as completely as possible. You will be notified when the item is returned.

Start on the Databases page and select the subject that is closest to your topic.

  • Read the database descriptions to see what kinds of information you can find in each database.
  • Many databases will allow you to search for specific kinds of information, so look for links that allow you to limit by type of source (scholarly article, magazine article), date, or subject.

You can limit your search to professional journals in an article database by checking the box "peer reviewed". A peer-reviewed journal has articles that have been reviewed by a panel of experts before the article is published. This review process ensures that the article is of very high quality. Not all journals are peer-reviewed, however. Ask your instructor if he/she requires peer-reviewed journals for your research project.

Click on the “find this” link under the article title. This will launch a search of all of our databases to see if the article is online anywhere.

  • If it is: click on the database name and open the article.
  • If not, click on the Interlibrary Loan link that appears. Log in and fill out the form with your article’s information. You should get the material in about 5-7 days.

A magazine provides general information and entertaining reading to a wide audience. Magazines cover current news and general interest topics. Magazine articles are usually short and easy to comprehend by the general public. They rarely cite sources or include bibliographies. EXAMPLES: Newsweek, Psychology Today, Sports Illustrated, Glamour, and Business Week.

A journal reports scholarly, often original research conducted by professionals or experts in a given discipline such as medicine, psychology, or literature. Journal articles are often long, complex, and can be challenging reading for those unfamiliar with the field of study. They will include abstracts (summaries), footnotes, bibliographies. EXAMPLES: Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Journal of Accountancy, Ecology, Journal of American History, and The International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Still confused? Watch this video from Cornell University on Youtube.

You have several options:

  • Come to the reference desk in the library during regular library hours
  • Call the library reference desk at (630) 942-3364 or use email or chat
  • Take a look at the research guide for your subject and use the sources described there. You can also contact the librarian listed to schedule a personal appointment.

Back to the beginning



Subscribe to RSS - research