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COM 113 Interpersonal Communication: Choosing Search Terms

A step-by-step guide to choosing a topic, finding resources, and writing research papers in the proper citation format for COM 113.

Choosing Search Terms

Now that you have a research question or your main argument chosen, write it out as a sentence. 

Example: Do teens have a problem with drugs? 

What are the main keywords in this sentence? The answer is "teens" and "drugs." We don't need to use the word "problem" here. We're going to search for "teens" and "drugs" and let the research guide us to the question's answer.

However, we may find as we search that the search terms we're using aren't retrieving the results we want. It is a good idea to come up with synonyms for your keywords or different ways of phrasing your question. Some fields of study use their own specific language to refer to various terms. 

So for example: What are other words we can use for teens? 

teenagers, youth, young adults, adolescents, children

What about drugs? How else can we refer to a "problem with drugs?" 

substance abuse, drug abuse, drug dependence, chemical abuse, chemical dependence, addiction, and if you want to be more specific or alter your topic slightly: cocaine, marijuana, alcohol abuse, opioids, heroin, etc. 

Make sure you keep track of which keywords you have used and which ones have worked for you and which haven't. For some examples of keywords, subjects, or topics for interpersonal communication. 

Now that you have your keywords, you are ready to start searching! 

Communications Search Terms

Potential Search Terms 

Attachment behavior

Body language

Coach-athlete relationships

Gender

Commuter marriage

Interpersonal conflict

Counselor and client

Jealousy

Couples

Sex differences

Cultural relations

Dialectical tensions

Culture conflict

Dating (Social Customs)

Dating violence

 Dependency (Psychology)

 Discrimination

 Divorce

 Emotions

 Family

 Family

 Fear

 Friendship

 Harassment

 Hugging

 Intercultural communication

 Interethnic dating

 Interfaith marriage

 Intergenerational communication

 Intergenerational relations

 Interpersonal attraction

 Interpersonal Communication

 Cross cultural studies

 Psychological aspects

 Sex differences

 Interpersonal communication in adolescence

 Interpersonal communication in children

 Interpersonal communication in infants

 Interpersonal conflict

 Interpersonal conflict in adolescence

 Interpersonal conflict in children

 Interpersonal confrontation

 Interpersonal relations

 Interpersonal relations and culture

 Interpersonal relations in adolescence

 Interpersonal relations in children

 Interracial dating

 Intimacy (Psychology)

 Intimidation

 Invective (verbal abuse)

 Jealousy

 Joking relationships

Kinship

Love

Love-hate relationships

Man-woman relationships (not Infotrac)

Married people

Minorities

Non-monogamous relationships

Nonverbal communication

Parent and child

Personal space

Physical – appearance-based bias

Race discrimination

Relationship addiction

Reverse discrimination

Self perception

Sex crimes (sexual abuse)

Sex differences

Sex discrimination

Social networks

Social networks

Social norms

Teacher-student relationships

Teasing

Unmarried couples

Verbal self-defense

 Search Terms for ProQuest

Abuse

Attitudes

Behavior

Child abuse & neglect

Children & youth

College students

Conflict

Conflicts

Couples

Cultural relations

Culture

Differences

Divorce

Domestic violence

Emotional abuse

Emotions

Families and family life

Friendship

Gay & lesbians

Gender

Interfaith relationships (good for topic guide)

Interpersonal Communication

Jealousy

Marriage

Multiculturalism and pluralism

Older people

Parents & parenting

Perceptions

Personal development

Personal relationships

Roles

Self image

Sex crimes

Sex discrimination

Sex roles

Sexes

Sexual assault

Support

Teamwork

Teenagers

Verbal abuse

Violence

Women

Keywords vs. Subjects

There is a difference between a keyword and a subject search. When you search by keyword, the keyword behaves sort of like a magnet. It pulls out every single piece of information that contains that single word or words. Subjects are more like files in a filing cabinet. Your topic is filed under certain words or phrases in that filing cabinet, and if you don't know which ones, you may have a difficult time finding what you want.