Chapter 1: Rhetorical Research

In this chapter you will be introduced to the concept of rhetorical research and how you can apply the rhetorical research process to your academic research assignments.

What comes to your mind when you think of the word ?  You may think of  a scientist in a lab performing experiments, an historian reading through old newspaper articles, or perhaps even the dreaded words of your instructor, “…for the next assignment you will write a research paper…” There are many different types of research, and the thoughts that came to your mind are all commonly associated with the word.  Generally speaking, research is really just about finding new information to answer a question or satisfy a curiosity.  You may not even realize it, but you probably perform some type of research everyday.  Consider the following scenarios:

“Before I decide what car to buy, I’m going to research which sedans get the best gas mileage.”

“My friend told me about some unique scholarships, I want to find out more to see if I could apply for any of them.”

“I’ve heard a lot about sanctions against Russia recently, but I don’t understand what sanctions are exactly.  I’m going to find some information that explains why it is a hot topic.”

Do any of those scenarios sound like research you have done?  In fact if you’ve ever settled a dispute with your friend by Googling the answer, you’ve done research!  Hopefully, thinking about your previous experience with research in this way will help you feel more confident about approaching research for academic purposes. Of course, some research requires more time and energy to find appropriate information, but all research begins the same way: with a question or a desire to know more about something.

In this book, we will focus on how to approach research for college assignments by performing research at a college (or more advanced level) than you may have done previously. We will refer to this type of research as rhetorical research.


Image: People illustrations by Storyset