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Communication Research Methods

Course Number: CS235

Subject: Communication Studies

Some helpful introductory videos:

A) First steps for 235 assignment

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 2013 or after
  4. Sources must be from communication/media/cultural studies or cognate disciplines…

A) First Steps

  • Do some preliminary research to see if your topic is covered in the research literature already
    • More recent topics may not have much scholarly research conducted on them
    • The narrower you start, the less you will find
    • Preliminary research helps to surface themes in the research literature
  • Build out your searches around concepts, for example:
    • Example topic: The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Canadian national identity
      • Concept 1: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation OR CBC
      • Concept 2: national identity
    • Conduct preliminary searching to identify additional concepts, which you can construct searches around:
      • "Canadian Broadcasting Corporation" OR CBC
        AND nation*
        AND character OR identity OR culture
B) To find scholarly, peer-reviewed articles

Tips:

  • 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 2013 (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 books or book chapters

Use Omni to identify books:

Run your search and limit results to either Books & eBooks and/or Book Chapters in the Resource Type facet at left side of the results page

  • 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 Omni is case sensitive; type AND instead of and; other databases are not case sensitive
  • In your results list, click the book title to find additional subject terms for books to add to your search

Additional book search tips (for print when applicable)

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

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