Comm 200 Gathering Research Assignment

Gathering Research Assignment

As the first graded assignment, it enables students to demonstrate a few skills pertinent to engaging in advocacy in any type of situation regardless of the topic. Specifically successful completion of this assignment serves as the foundation for future assignments later in the term. Gather many sources that reflect different perspectives or opinions related to the course topic and QOV. Keep in mind that ten-twelve sources will be required for the final paper. The goal is for each student to demonstrate his/her familiarity and skills with the range of research available (e.g., academic journal articles, books—single authored or edited collections, professional periodicals, government documents, popular presses and yes, the internet).  Thus, relying largely on a single type of source, say books or the internet, doesn’t demonstrate your capabilities as a researcher. 

The three sources you will need to find and identify for your Gathering Research Assignment are:

  • Substantive News
  • Scholarly Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles
  • Editorials

Click here for a chart of characteristics of each type of source. 

Research Pyramid

Research Pyramid

comm 200 research pyramid

Research Pyramid

As you progress through the semester, you will move up the pyramid. You start at the bottom of the pyramid, building your foundation with general web sources (including wikipedia). This foundation will help you understand your topic, including vocabulary and important people/organizations.

As you start to find and read better sources, you will be building your understanding of the topic, and finding your area of focus. Once you have found your focus, you will start to develop your own perspective on the topic. 

During this time, the sources become of higher quality and more relevant to your topic. By the time you turn in your final paper, your sources should be the best ones available to support your claim.

Just as "the pyramids weren't built in a day," it will take time to develop your understanding of the topic. Give yourself plenty of time, and know the more time you devote, the better your final paper will be.

Research Pyramid

Background Information

Background Information

COMM 200: Background Information

Background Research

The point of conducting background research is to learn as much as you can about your topic. When you have a thorough understanding of your topic, you will then be able to create a research question or thesis statement, which you will then support with evidence. In this stage of the research process, you are looking for general information about your topic. Keep in mind, you will not be using these sources in your bibliography/reference list because they are too general.The sources you include will be evidence to support your thesis or research question.

The best sources for background information are:

  • Encyclopedias (including Wikipedia, see disclaimer below) and other reference sources

  • Books

  • Websites, including news


Google News & Alerts

Since your topics are current events, a great source for background information will be news sources. You'll want to monitor the news about your topic because things could change throughout the semester, and you want to have the most up-to-date info. A great way to keep track is through a Google Alert, which is an email you will receive that includes any recent news stories on your topic.

Learn how to setup a Google Alert


Encyclopedias & Reference Sources

  • CQ Researcher Explores a single "hot" issue in the news in-depth each week. Topics range from social and teen issues to environment, health, education and science and technology.

  • Wikipedia A word about WIkipedia... I love Wikipedia for background information. It is similar to print encyclopedias, in that you will find general, background information about your topic. However, you should NEVER, EVER, EVER, put a Wikipedia entry in your bibliography/reference page. Not only because it is not as credible as print encyclopedias, but it is too general to include in a bibliograpy. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact me and we can chat more about it.


Databases for News

Databases for News

Use these databases to search across newspapers and news magazines. To access full-text of the article, look for the GET-IT Button.

Most Useful

Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly
ProQuest - News & Newspapers

Search among ProQuest’s News & Newspapers databases

Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1985 to current None

Covers news and business information, including Dow Jones and Reuters newswires and The Wall Street Journal, plus more than 8,000 other sources providing current news.

Full-text 1975 to current Some
Academic Search Premier

This scholarly collection offers information in nearly every area of academic study including: computer sciences, engineering, physics, chemistry, language and linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, ethnic studies, and many more.

Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1975 to current Most

An important index to political, economic, and social issues in current debate.

Links to full-text via Get-It 1972 to current All
Ethnic NewsWatch

Full-text ethnic newspapers, searchable in English or Spanish.

Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1992 to current None

GenderWatch contains publications which focus on how gender impacts a broad spectrum of subject areas. GenderWatch is a repository of an important historical perspective on the evolution of the women’s movement and the changes in gender roles.

Full-text 1970 to current All

Also Useful

Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly
San Diego Union Tribune (current coverage)

The San Diego Union-Tribune is the product of a merger of the San Diego Union, founded in 1868, and the Evening Tribune, founded in 1895. Published from an editorial, printing and business plant in San Diego's Mission Valley, it is the second-oldest newspaper in Southern California, and the oldest business in San Diego County; an area known as a popular vacation destination and home to Mission Bay Park, the largest man-made aquatic park in the country, consisting of 4,235 acres. The Union-Tribune has won numerous journalism awards over the years, including the Pulitzer Prize, and features daily news, sports, shopping, and entertainment coverage for the San Diego area.

Full-text 1983 to current Some
San Diego Union Newspaper Archive

Collection of newspapers published in San Diego under various titles, including the San Diego Union.

Full-text 1872 to 1983
Los Angeles Times (1996-present)

Los Angeles Times articles from 1996-present. For articles published prior to 1996, see the Los Angeles Times (Historical) Database.

Full-text 1996 to present None
Los Angeles Times (Historical)

Archival issues and articles beginning with 1881. Issues published during the past twenty-four years are not available in this database. Check ProQuest or Factiva databases for the material not held in this collection.

Full-text Archive None
New York Times (Current, 1980-present)

Articles from the New York Times from 1980-present.  For articles prior to 1980, see the New York Times (Historical Collection) Database.

Full-text 1980 to present None
New York Times (Historical Collection)

The New York Times Historical Collection provides full page and article images including the NY Daily Times (1851-1857). The most recent four years not included in this historical collection can be searched through ProQuest Direct, LexisNexis or Factiva.

Full-text Archive None
African American Newspapers, 1827-1998

Newspapers digitized from 37 states chronicling African American experiences and influence in a variety of events from the early 19th through late 20th centuries.

Full-text 1827 to 1998 None
Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980

Spanish and English language newspapers offering news, advertisements, opinion and more from across the nation reflecting contemporary thought and activity.

Full-text 1808 to 1980 None

APA Citation

APA Citation

APA Citation (aes)

Why cite?

  • To give credit where credit is due;
  • So your reader (professor) can get the source that you mentioned in your assignment;
  • To add credibility to your research - shows you did the work;
  • Avoid plagiarism.

Learn more about writing citations and avoiding plagiarism by visiting these websites:

APA Style Guides


How to find an article's DOI (Digital Object Identifier)