Communication Research Paper Topics

Communication Research Paper Topics

This list of almost 100 communication research paper topics has been divided in 14 basic categories, following a number of different approaches to studying communication:

  • the different processes that people typically use to accomplish the task of communicating with each other (such as message creation, information processing, and identity construction);
  • the forms and types of communication (such as conversation, public speaking, interviewing, and decision making) that are commonly encountered in everyday life;
  • the characteristics (such as strategy, style, and the interplay of verbal and nonverbal codes) that a communicator must consider in creating messages; and
  • how communication changes depending on the nature of the relationships (such as familial, work, and romantic) that individuals build and maintain through these various processes, forms, and types and carefully or not so carefully constructed messages.

To these, we have added research paper topics on factors that influence how we communicate (such as gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and globalization), as well as a number of topics that could be considered to be both challenges and opportunities for communicators (such as communication competence, sexual harassment, deception, and bias).

Almost 100 Communication Research Paper Topics

The Discipline of Communication

Approaches to the Study of Communication

Key Processes of Communication

Forms and Types of Communication

Key Characteristics of Messages

  • The Interplay of Verbal and Nonverbal Codes
  • Rhetorical Style
  • Genre
  • Dramatic Elements in Messages
  • Rhetorical Exigency, Strategy, and Argumentation
  • Social Support

Key Communication Relationships

  • Spouses and Other Intimate Partnerships
  • Children, Parents, and Grandparents
  • Friends
  • Dating and Romantic Partners
  • Supervisors, Subordinates, and Coworkers
  • Social Groups, Workgroups, and Teams
  • Students and Teachers
  • Patients, Doctors, and Other Helping Relationships

Factors Affecting Communication

  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Culture
  • Risk
  • Freedom of Expression
  • Globalization

Challenges and Opportunities for Communication

  • Ethical and Unethical Communication
  • Competent and Incompetent Communication
  • Unwanted Communication, Aggression, and Abuse
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Deception
  • Bias

Media as Communication

  • Traditional and New Media
  • Media Portrayals and Representations
  • Media Uses and Gratifications
  • Agenda Setting and Framing
  • Cultivation and Media Exposure
  • Virtual Reality and Presence
  • Computer-Mediated Communication
  • Group Decision Support Systems
  • Media Literacy

Communication as a Profession

  • Professional Communication Practices


  • The Idea of Journalism
  • The Changing Nature of “News”
  • Reporting, Story Development, and Editing
  • Investigative Journalism
  • Magazine and Feature Writing
  • Photojournalism
  • Broadcast Journalism
  • New Media Journalism
  • Media Law in the United States
  • Journalism Ethics
  • International Journalism
  • The Business of Journalism

Public Relations

  • History and Concepts of Public Relations
  • Theories and Effects of Public Relations
  • Public Relations Research
  • Ethics in Public Relations
  • Issues Management
  • Campaign Design and Management
  • Crisis Communication
  • Political Communication
  • International Public Relations
  • The Business of Public Relations


  • History of Advertising
  • Research in Advertising Campaign Design
  • Creative Development and Copywriting in Advertising Campaigns
  • Media Planning for Advertising Campaigns
  • Integrated Marketing Communication
  • Social Marketing Campaigns
  • International Advertising
  • The Business of Advertising

Media Management

  • Media Economics and Ownership
  • Media Policy and Regulation
  • Radio and Television Programming
  • Media Convergence

The word “communication” is descended from the Latin noun communicatio, which meant a sharing or imparting. From the root communis (common, public), it has no relation to terms such as union or unity, but rather is linked to the Latin munus (duty, gift), and thus has relatives in such terms as common, immune, mad, mean, meaning, municipal, mutual, and German terms such as Gemeinschaft (community) and Meinung (opinion). Its root senses have to do with change, exchange, and goods possessed by more than one person; the Latin verb communicare means to make common.

The discipline of communication has grown in popularity from the time professors of journalism and speech decided, in the mid-1960s, that the term communication was an excellent general descriptor for the theory and research that each group aspired to create. Over time, the two groups grew closer together and began to recognize significant overlap in their theoretical and research interests, but there were also differences in their traditions that kept them apart. While both groups agreed that communication is a practical discipline, journalism professors focused a great deal of their attention on the education of media professionals. Speech professors, on the other hand, often were more oriented to the liberal arts and valued the fact that communication could be approached from a variety of traditions, including the arts, humanities, social sciences, and even the sciences.

A key term in modern communication research, however, is convergence. Not only are media and technology converging with each other to produce new means of communicating but also individuals are increasingly using both new and existing communication tools to create new forms of communication. And this convergence forces the various “camps” within the communication discipline to draw on each other’s theories and research methods to keep up with explaining the rapidly changing communication environment. This convergence of ideas and theories provides a space to challenge conventional ways of thinking about the communication discipline.

Media research paper topics are the centerpiece of the second part of the list. The study of media has been somewhat more organized than has been the study of the communication process more generally, and there are a number of widely recognized theories of media as communication for which considerable knowledge has been generated through various research studies. The list of selected research paper topics presents a number of these theories and approaches (such as agenda setting, cultivation, uses, and gratifications), as well as topics related to how people use technology in the communication process.

The remainder of communication research paper topics list focuses on communication as a profession and the various professional courses of study in the communication discipline: journalism, public relations, advertising, and media management. The curricula for these programs of study contain courses that are commonly taught across much of the United States, and so we tended to organize the research paper topics in these areas around those common course titles.

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