One of the most creative disciplines has too many pitfalls when it comes to writing a professional research paper from scratch. Why so? Like any type of old-fashioned or modern art, the graphic design combines visual presentation and information display. Don’t forget about new and extraordinary ideas to be added to the written work! It is essential to put an effort in identifying the problem and providing several solutions.

You need to learn to figure out what tidbits of your toolbox must be used, what elements should be borrowed and which ones have to be remixed, what artistic choices are appropriate, what topics are really burning and which ones should better be omitted, where to look for inspiration and how to check the worthiness of the written piece?

If you know the essentials of writing a research work on graphic design, all you need is some time for research and paper parts organization. But ask yourself if you really know ALL of the essentials… We are here to help those, who have already got into trouble with their written assignment and have no idea how to get out of it.

Essential # 1: Should I use only up-to-date info or is looking in an archive is a must too?

Research must be thorough. If it leads you only 5 years back, it’s not the research your professor wants to see. There are many really valuable resources when it comes to researching design materials. Many people choose to start with WorldCat.org which is a catalog that allows searching the info in thousands and thousands of various libraries.  Start with a generalized search and then go to the subject area and item-specific info.

Are there any advantages in looking in archives? Yes, and the main one is a chance to get original materials full of visual aids, detailed text inventories, sketches, designer processes, and a lot of supporting data. A well-organized archive is a chance to uncover things that weren’t published before.

Essential # 2: Read a lot to choose the topic

You need to go off with something impressive and draw others’ attention through your work. Apply the principle of usefulness: if the topic is useful, people will read it. What if you don’t have any topic by this time and no book has given you a tip where to find it? Here are the most powerful ones that could be helpful:

  1. Graphic design in mass communication: research how graphic design helps send messages to an audience and what functions it has in marketing.
  2. Paul Rand and the way his graphic design works inspire. He has created numerous really memorable logos, research his work, and study his approaches. Maybe you’d like to choose any other designer, who inspires you.
  3. Graphic design and photographic theory: compare tools that are commonly used not only by graphic designers but also by photographers, what are the differences and similarities.
  4. Graphic design in the 20th century. How did youth movements and technological developments influence graphic design? Did the graphic design itself have any influence on the movements?
  5. Women as graphic designers. Compare works by men and women, check whether their approaches and techniques are different. Whose works attract more?
  6. GD evolution OR how it developed during the previous century and if there was any development boom at the beginning of the 21st century? Who was the first to use it and by whom is it used now?
  7. Palette choice in graphic designs. How do certain colors predetermine the success of the entire project? Colors may show what you want or need to say to the consumers. And what is the most popular/best color choice?
  8. Changing corporate identity through graphic design. It is useful to share some examples of corporate images that became much better because of graphic design. Start with logos.
  9. Computer graphic designers. How did graphic design change with the development of computer technologies? Find out if it has become more appealing or not.
  10. Low-budget designs. Discuss the chances of creating a really decent product when the budget is very low, offer different money-saving methods.

Essential # 3: Try and narrow the topic

Even specified graphic design topics are too broad. You need to narrow your own to make a research paper really valid. Those, who are not sure what to write about, need to spend time answering five main questions that start with who, what, when, where, and why.

  • Who is a specific group you’d like to limit the research to?
  • What aspect of a broad topic you’d like to concentrate on?
  • Where is the specific geographic location to which you’ll have to limit the research?
  • When was the period you need to focus the research on?
  • Why do you believe this is an interesting topic?

As the five basic questions are answered, start writing. Devote yourself to what you are doing. If you enjoy the process, the audience will definitely enjoy the result. Don’t concentrate on what seems to be interesting for you only, but operate with others’ preferences and choices. The topic you pick is to be relevant not only to the area of study but to your grade as well. Choose the one that will add some value to the reader’s life, solve an existing problem at least partially, and will be treated as important over time.

About the Author

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mirko

Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily. He is also a graphic designer and the founder of WP Expert.