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COM 400 — Communication Theory & Research (Dr. Sharp)


Contact Information

Caroline Bordinaro


Concepts and questions for beginning research:


Finding Journal Articles Online

Search Tips

Finding Books in the library

Finding quality websites

APA Citation Style


Concepts and questions for beginning research:
  • Where to Start?
      • What's your research question?
      • What information do you need to find?
  • Who cares about the same information? (e.g.: researchers, historians, government, etc.)
      • What kind of information do they need?
      • Where would they get it?
  • What resource are you currently using? Why is it important to know?
      • Is there a better tool for the job?
      • Are you using it in the most efficient/effective way?
  • Types of information available
      • Books
      • Articles from journals, magazines and newspapers
      • Websites
      • Newsletters
      • Reports
What is a primary source? What is a secondary source? Click here to find out

  • DATABASE: An organized collection of electronic information, such as photographs, addresses, or journal articles.
  • ONLINE JOURNAL INDEX: A database that contains magazine, newspaper and journal articles, e.g: Academic Search Premier. AKA Subscription Database.
  • SCHOLARLY JOURNAL: Also called academic or refereed journal. Articles usually reviewed by experts in the field before publication, published for a research audience, narrow focus, e.g.; Molecular Endocrinology
  • MAGAZINE: Publication of general interest: popular interest and broad subjects (e.g: Psychology Today)
  • SUBJECT HEADINGS : Also called descriptors. Official terms used to classify items in a database.
  • THESAURUS: List and finding aid for official controlled vocabulary terms. Also called Topic Index or Subject List.
  • ABSTRACT: a brief summary of the main content of an article
  • FULL TEXT: the complete article. Click on the FindItCSUDH button to see if the Full Text is available.
  • CITATION: The basic information you need to find the full text of an article. It includes the title of the article, the author, the name of the publication, the date, the volume and issue number and the page numbers.

Finding Journal Articles Online

NOTE: These indexes must be accessed through the library home page at library.csudh.edu. Under Articles, E-books, Online Scholarly Resources, you may either browse by subject area or go to your favorite resource using the alphabetical List .

  • Communication & Mass Media Complete*: provides the best quality research, and is an invaluable resource for students, researchers, and educators interested in any and all aspects of communication and mass media. (scroll down on the EBSCO screen to log on to this database.)
  • Humanities Full Text*: provides complete content - indexing, abstracts, and full text. Scroll down list to find database name.
  • Oxford Journals: Indexes the journal Public Opinion Quarterly, International Journal of Public Opinion Research as well as many other titles.
  • Social Sciences Full Text*: indexes publications and peer-reviewed research.

These are databases are not specifically communication-related, but they are very good for general information on studies and current news :

  • Academic Search Premier*
  • ProQuest Databases*
  • OmniFile Full Text Mega* : select specific discipline in subject box or search multiple subjects.
  • JSTOR: Peer reviewed journal articles on a wide range of Humanities subjects.
*To limit search to peer-reviewed journals only, look for check box next to Peer-Reviewed, Scholarly Journals, or Academic Journals on database search screen (may be in Advanced Search)

Search Tips

Creating an effective online search:

  1. Take your research question and circle the "action words"
  2. Think of at least three synonyms for each action word
  3. Use these words in various combination to get a good result (between 15-40 results is optimal)
  • Combining keywords
    • AND: broadcast AND media AND regulations
    • OR: television OR radio OR newspaper
    • NOT: New York NOT city
  • Phrase searching"" ( "Noam Chomsky", "Federal Communications Commission")
  • Advanced Search: Use this frequently to determine your search options. This will save you TIME and FRUSTRATION!
  • Remember, the more words you use to search or the more limits you place on a search, the fewer results you will get. (How can you get more results?)
  • Always use the Print and Save functions embedded within the screen. It is usually not a good idea to use the File-Print or File-Save As functions in the upper left hand corner of the browser.
  • Use the online HELP screens - they really are helpful!

How to Find an Article On Your Topic: Click here for more tips, tricks and advice

Finding Books in the library

Go to TOROFIND: the CSUDH Library Catalog and search on the title, author, subject or keyword. Look not only for that specific call number, but also check out the books in that section.

  • If you don't see the right item listed, or want more titles, try an on a few keywords (in separate boxes).
  • If you still don't find the right book, ask a reference librarian.

Finding quality websites
  • Infomine (infomine.ucr.edu): A project from the Univeristy of California and other universities, it is a searchable index of websites specifically appropriate for university research. Click on SocSci & Humanities to search their specialized index.
  • Internet Public Library 2 (IPL2): Index of websites reviewed by librarians, geared toward the general public. Choose a topic from the index or use Advanced Search to search for keywords.
  • Evaluating Information on the Web: This is a very good checklist from the Pasadena City College Library for judging the quality of not only information on the Internet, but any information you may want to use for an assignment.
Useful Websites for Communication Theory and Research

Parts of a Citation (Bellevue University)

Critically Analyzing Information Sources
(Cornell University)

How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography
(Cornell University)

American Communication Association

American Communication Journal

Communication Theory (University of Colorado at Denver)

International Communication Association

Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (to Oct. 2007)

National Communication Association

APA Citation Style

APA style
is the citation and formatting style created and used by the American Psychological Association. Not all citation styles are the same, so be sure to ask your professors which they want you to use. Other styles include MLA , ASA and Turabian.

This comprehensive guide from the librarians at CSULA will help you use the APA citation style. Click here for our tutorial on citing sources.

Click here for a cheat-sheet on APA citation style.