Communication Research Methods

Course #: CS235B

A) First Steps

For your assignment, you need to find:

  1. 8 items, minimum 4/maximum 6 peer-reviewed articles…
  2. 2 to 4 items must be books or book chapters…
  3. At least 5 should have been published since 2000 or after
  4. Sources must be from communication/media/cultural studies or cognate disciplines…

Sidebar: What about using Google Scholar?

The good:

  • The biggest database in the world!
  • Convenient, easy
  • Good if you need to find a source quickly and you have a citation
  • Good if using the “cited by” feature

The not so good:

  • NOT only scholarly materials: Course syllabi, Academic blog articles, Discussion papers, "White papers," "think tank" papers – not all peer-reviewed - AND Predatory Journal content
  • No way to get only peer-reviewed; typing "peer-reviewed" in search box won’t work
  • Weird and wonky: you can’t really refine the results properly
  • "Commercial" results?
  • PREDATORY journal articles

If you use Google scholar: if off-campus, follow the setup instructions here

B) To find scholarly, peer-reviewed articles


  • Break your research question down into specific concepts and subject terms; don't enter a question directly into a database
    • E.g., don't search for "Fake news" and the culture of politics on social media
    • Instead, look for specific terms and link them together, e.g. "fake news" AND politic* AND "social media"
    • Use " " to search an exact phrase
    • Use a * at the end of a word to search for all letter combinations (wildcard)
    • The “AND” operator indicates the term must be included in our search
    • Scan the abstracts for related subject headings (e.g. Fake News = False News in EBSCO)
    • Add related terms using “OR” e.g. "Fake news" OR "False news" - searches for both phrases

To find articles published after 2000 (or any particular date)

  • Look for the Limit area on the database's search page to limit to a particular month/year; often you can do this in the results listing as well
  • keep track of where you look and the keywords you use
  • start early. (library staff can deliver items from other libraries)

Additional Tips on Results:

  • Change the default sort of results from "Newest" to "Relevance"
  • Don't limit results only to "Full Text" in EBSCO; you'll miss a large set of full-text articles that can be accessed

C) To find 2 books or book chapters

Use the Primo Catalogue to identify books at Laurier, the Universities of Waterloo and Guelph, and the Annex

  • Use the Advanced search; select the Books+ tab, and then select Resource Type: Books (drop down menu at right side)
  • Like searching for articles (above) break your search up into specific concepts, e.g. Media AND Convergence AND Television
  • When using operators to connect terms remember Primo is case sensitive; type AND instead of and; other databases are not
  • In your results list, use the Details tab for each book to find additional subject terms for books to add to your search

Additional book search tips

D) Finding sources in communications/media/cultural studies (or cognate disciplines)

  • You can add/remove databases to search depending on the discipline you are interested in
  • In EBSCO, on the main search page, click the "Choose Databases" option and select additional databases that are appropriate, e.g. Anthropology plus (ProQuest also has a similar feature)
  • You may also need to search in other discipline specific databases, found on the Databases page, listed by discipline

How do I keep out sources from adolescent or behavioural psychology or medicine or psychiatry?

  • You can remove databases by following the step above, and then deselecting those that are not appropriate, e.g. Psychology databases such as PsycInfo
  • You may have to check the results carefully to see they are not coming from a journal outside the areas of interest, e.g. look at the bibliographic information in the results list