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PR Capstone: Defining Your Topic

Tips for creating a good research question:

What you research (and eventually say) about your topic is driven by the research questions that you ask.

Ideally your research questions will be MICROS



Clear and Simple




You should be able to easily explain what your research question has to do with your assigned sub-topic, as well as the larger topic. Use a research question to focus your search initially, but don't be afraid to slightly alter it as your search progresses. Often what you are able to find/access will be part of what focuses your research. Flexibility is key!

Sometimes the best way to learn how to write a good research question is by seeing examples. If you're unsure, take this brief quiz by SUNY Empire

Finding Inspiration

  • PR News
    • Provides professional resources (some only available through subscription), links to PR blogs and PR news.
  • PR Daily
    • News, advice, and opinions on PR, marketing, social media, etc.
  • Institute for Public Relations
    • Provides links to PR research with sub-areas for targeted inspiration such as big data, crisis management, ethics, public affairs and more.
  • Browse social media, news, etc. and see what people are talking about

Exploratory Searching

While we want you to use scholarly, peer-reviewed sources for this paper, it's a lot easier to find "the good stuff" if you spend some time brainstorming and seeing what's out there on the open web.

Google is great at the very beginning of your search.

Credo is a bunch of encyclopedias smooshed together and will give you an broad overview of a wide range of topics.

Typing your topic into WISE can also be useful in figuring out what's out there!

Plan and write it out

Working Topic:

Three research questions:


Terms and synonyms to search:

Term Synonyms and Similar Terms
ex. "filter bubble" "customization algorithms", "personalized search", "personalized news"