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Interpersonal Communications (COMM 103 - Sahlman)

This guide will help you find and cite academically-appropriate sources for your research assignment.

Where do I find a topic?

Try the following:

  • Use references from your textbook
  • Search one of the professional associations on the Websites link above

Select a Meaningful Topic

Whenever you are given the freedom to do so, select a topic that genuinely interests you and/or is relevant to your life. Do a quick inventory:

  • What makes you tick? What defines you?
  • What problems affect you or someone close to you?
  • What do you think the biggest problem in society is?

You'll want to consider the following issues before you select your topic:

  • Will it sustain my interest?
  • Does it fit the parameters of my assignment?
  • Is credible information on this topic readily available?

For this assignment, Dr. Sahlman asks that you select a topic involving some aspect of interpersonal communication. During the semester you will study the following topics:

  • Definition communication and interpersonal communication          two profiles facing away from one another
  • Language and verbal codes
  • Nonverbal communication and behavior
  • Culture, gender, and personality in interpersonal communication
  • Perception
  • Listening
  • Emotion
  • Social cognition and the self
  • Self-disclosure
  • Relational development
    • relational escalation/relational initiation
    • relational maintenance
    • relational de-escalation/relational termination
  • Compliance gaining
  • Social and personal relationships
  • Family and intimate relationships
  • Deception in interpersonal relationships
  • Conflict and power
  • Interpersonal communication in business relationships
  • Communication competence 

Brainstorm Key Terms

Using the correct words to search will help you find relevant information. Use your research questions to help you create a list of key words to use in your searches for information.

Example Keywords:

  • nonverbal communication
  • body language
  • interpersonal communication
  • models of communication
  • communication theory
  • interpersonal relations


Because different authors and search tools use different words to describe the same concepts, it's useful to have a list of similar and related terms in your arsenal when you set out to search for relevant information. The process of creating these alternative terms is called brainstorming terms or concept mapping. The University of Illinois Undergraduate Library illustrates this process well in their brief video called, Developing Your Topic with a Concept Map.

What Next?

Follow Dr. Sahlman's instructions for the remainder of the assignment. Need another copy of the assignment?