Introduction to Media History

Course #: CS100A


  • For the media mini-history project, you need to use a minimum of 15 sources, including 5 peer reviewed journal articles, 5 newspaper articles (or popular magazines), and 3 books (academic and/or popular press)
  • Below are some tips at how to search for these sources efficiently and effectively

1) Find five peer-reviewed journal 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 "What is the history of the instant camera?"
    • Instead, look for specific terms and link them together, e.g. instant AND camera
    • Use " " to search an exact phrase, e.g. "instant camera"
    • 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. Instant Photography = Instant camera in EBSCO; also Polaroid)
    • Add related terms using “OR” e.g. "instant camera" OR "instant photography" - searches for both phrases
    • Add in terms to your initial search to narrow the results if you're getting too many, e.g:
      • "instant photography" OR "instant camera" OR Polaroid
      • AND history

Additional tips on refining results:

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

2) Find 5 newspaper articles

  • Go to the News Articles page
    • Canadian News @ ProQuest is a good database for easily finding Canadian news sources
    • Nexis Uni is good for international news sources
    • both allow you to easily download or copy/paste citations from articles
    • For older newspapers archives, note the News Archives online section

3) Finding books

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. Instant AND camera AND history
  • 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
    • In this example, you could use Polaroid or photography as additional terms

Additional book search tips

  • If you're not finding enough results, your search may be too narrow
    • Broaden your search to a more general level, e.g. for the above example, you could look for the exact subject Photography--History
  • Many of our books have individual chapters that may cover your topic (you don't have to read the entire book):
    • Use the Details tab to look for individual chapter information
    • Check the facets at the left of the results page for useful subject headings
  • If you've never looked for books on the shelves at Laurier, learn about our call numbers
  • Floor plans for locating books
  • Requesting books from other libraries (note videos)

Having problems? Don't hesitate to contact me: email, call (519-884-0710 x3912), drop in, or make an appointment.

My office, L3-310, is one floor up from the main floor of the Library on the Waterloo campus. Come up the stairs, then walk straight ahead.