Thinking About Research Paper Topics

How do my personal experiences affect my topic of choice for my research paper?


Few things make me happier than cheering for my two teenage boys who travel ice hockey, but I’m not sure that Dr. Bohannon wants to hear more about that. I analyzed the hockey club’s website for Dr. Palmer’s graduate content strategy course, and I blogged about an 18-year-old goalie who was hit by a car in Dr. Hutchins’ social media capstone course last semester. During one of my research expeditions in the online school library, I came across an interesting study about the influence of youth sports coaches on players, so that’s one potential topic.

After I finish this course, I will have used most of the $5250 annual tuition reimbursement allotment I receive from my employer (and the IRS). Nevertheless, I’ve perused comparable graduate courses in my field of study (communication, English, marketing, professional writing, public relations, and technical writing) for my final two classes next spring. I’m very disappointed that the consolidated KSU offers no graduate courses in technical writing. What are some of the trending topics in technical communication? Perhaps I could leverage my experiences working as a web writer within trios that also include an information designer (often also the team project leader) and a visual designer. What can I do as a writer to demonstrate my ability to act as a project manager as well? Perhaps I could research the role of technical writer as project manager.

I started my career (a long time ago) as a reporter. After two years out of the workforce and the country, I reinvented myself as an administrative assistant, and then evolved to marketing writer, compliance communications analyst, writing team manager, and now editorial designer. Over the years, I’ve (gasp) re-invented myself as a writer for stuff that gets printed to stuff that gets published on digital pages. Today’s communicators must adapt quickly, as Dusenberry, Hutter, and Robinson noted in their 2015 study in the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication: “This article establishes traits of adaptable communicators in the 21st century, explains why adaptability should be a goal of technical communication educators, and shows how multimodal pedagogy supports adaptability” (p. 299). That topic is right up my alley, and I suspect the language reflects Dr. Bohannon’s philosophy as well. Yes, today’s writers and communicators must be able to engage with diverse audiences (and colleagues), mediate messages with empathy and conviction, and solve problems are all necessary skills, as the authors noted. I think I may have a winner here. 🙂

Another hot subject out there is responsive design. Essentially, the term refers to information design that is device neutral, so theoretically the same design infrastructure or content could exist as well and communicate as effectively on a web page and a mobile device. Knight explained this concept in an online Smashing magazine blog. That’s easier said than done, as anyone who’s faced limitations of an arcane CMS content publishing system knows. The subject keeps coming up at work, and I’d like to demonstrate stronger expertise in this area. However, there’s limited academic peer-reviewed research on this topic that I could find, which means trying to locate books that I generally cannot access as a remote student, or researching more contemporary web-based sources instead.

I think I’ll be happier and more engaged in the process of researching and writing a paper about the evolving role of writer in today’s digital world.


Knight, K. (2011, January 12). Responsible web design: What is it and how to use it [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Spadaccia, K. (2016, May 9). 18-year-old hit by car reminds drivers to slow down and move over when approaching accidents [Web log post]. Retrieved from

(These opinions reflect only those of the author.)




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