Communication Research Guide

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Research Process

Research Process (aec)

Research Process

Research is a process that cannot (should not) be completed in one sitting. If you follow the steps outlined below, you should experience less frustration, anxiety and general dread, and be much happier with the end product. Librarians can help you at any step in the process, but specifically in topic development, background research, and the collection of evidence.

Once you get the assignment, you will choose your topic, and start brainstorming. Next, you will conduct some exploration or background research and take detailed notes about what you find. Using these notes, you will then focus your topic, and your brainstorming will then be about how you will start searching for your topic. Then, you will collect the information you need to support your topic. This is where you may go back to further refining your topic and collecting more background information.  Once you feel that you have enough information to start writing, then you will work on drafting your assignment. Again, you may need to collect more information if you feel that there are gaps in your paper. Once you have completed your writing, you will write your citations and bibliography. Then you will finish by evaluating the process.

One thing that I can’t stress enough, is that this process is cyclical. If you follow this process, then you may have to revise your topic, and search for new sources a few times. Don’t be discouraged if it feels like you are going in circles with your research. You can always come meet with a librarian for help with your research.

 

Research Process

Literature Reviews

Literature Reviews (aec)

Literature Review

Example literature review

What is a literature review?

A literature review is not research, it is a review of the research that has been done on your topic.

A literature review is NOT just a summary, but a conceptually organized synthesis of the results of your search. It must

  • organize information and relate it to the thesis or research question you are developing
  • synthesize and critically analyze the results comparing and contrasting their findings
  • identify controversy and themes that appear in the literature

A literature review is a piece of discursive prose, not a list describing or summarizing one piece of literature after another. It's usually a bad sign to see every paragraph beginning with the name of a researcher. Instead, organize the literature review into sections that present themes or identify trends, including relevant theory. You are not trying to list all the material published, but to synthesize and evaluate it according to the guiding concept of your thesis or research question. (From Univ. of Toronto)

Check out these sites for more help understanding literature reviews

Tips on conducting research for a literature review

  • Use bibliographies and reference pages of articles to direct your research. You may start to see some trends with the people who are writing about your topic. Check the bibliography for more articles about your topic.
  • Use the authors who you have found to be writing on your topic as starting points. Look for additional articles, and rebuttals, retractions or responses to their research

Use this chart to track articles you read for your literature review:

comm 390 articles for lit review

Scholarly Articles

Communication Databases

Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly
Communication & Mass Media Complete

Provides abstracts and full text for more than 200 communication journals.

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Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1950 to current Some
Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA)

Provides abstracts of articles from about 2,000 journals (published worldwide), coverage of recent books, book review citations and dissertation listings.

Report Problems
Links to full-text via Get-It 1973 to current All
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.

Report Problems
Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1975 to current Most
Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly
Sociological Abstracts

Provides access to the latest international findings in theoretical and applied sociology, social science, and political science.

Report Problems
Links to full-text via Get-It 1963 to current All
ERIC

A national database of education literature, including reports and journal articles.

Report Problems
ALERT! Within ERIC search results: IF the "Link to ERIC full text" does not work, try the "Get It!" link.
Links to full-text via Get-It 1966 to current Some
Research Topics: 

APA Style

TL-ALL-APA

Citing sources is expected in scholarly communities and is almost always required in research papers. Scholars cite:

  • to give credit where credit is due;
  • so your reader (professor) can find the source that you mentioned in your assignment;
  • to add credibility to your research - shows you did the work;
  • and to avoid plagiarism!

Not sure where to start? Review this Flow Chart of the citation process before you continue!

APA Style

APA stands for the American Psychological Association. This is the preferred citation style of many of the social and behavioral sciences. Always remember to check your assignment guidelines or ask your professor which citation style they prefer for your work.

Official APA Style Manual Resources

 

Helpful Online Resources

 

Also Helpful: Citation Generators

  • Zotero  Zotero is a tool for storing citations and generating bibliographies using data collected from the library catalog or websites such as Amazon or Google. For more information on using Zotero, see our Zotero Guide. Always double check your results with citation generators, they are not always perfect!
  • KnightCite Citation Service   This citation generator formats your citations for you. This can be a convenient tool, especially if you have a lot of sources to cite, but it is NOT 100% accurate. ALWAYS check an additional resource like the APA Manual or Purdue OWL to make sure that the citation is formatted correctly!

 

Sample Papers in APA format

 

GEO

GEO 102

This guide will prepare you for your library session for GEO 102, and serve as a place to refer back to for help at a later date. The links below and the library session will prepare you to search and use sources for the following speeches:

  • Speech of definition
  • Community impact
  • Multiple perspectives
  • Persuasive Speech

Prior to the library session, complete the following:

1. Watch this video: GEO Research Process 

geo102 sp13

2. Complete this tutorial

3. When you visit this library later in the semester, we'll be working on finding scholarly articles for your persuasive speech.

 

Communication Databases

Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly
Communication & Mass Media Complete

Provides abstracts and full text for more than 200 communication journals.

Report Problems
Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1950 to current Some
Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA)

Provides abstracts of articles from about 2,000 journals (published worldwide), coverage of recent books, book review citations and dissertation listings.

Report Problems
Links to full-text via Get-It 1973 to current All
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.

Report Problems
Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1975 to current Most
Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly
Sociological Abstracts

Provides access to the latest international findings in theoretical and applied sociology, social science, and political science.

Report Problems
Links to full-text via Get-It 1963 to current All
ERIC

A national database of education literature, including reports and journal articles.

Report Problems
ALERT! Within ERIC search results: IF the "Link to ERIC full text" does not work, try the "Get It!" link.
Links to full-text via Get-It 1966 to current Some
Research Topics: 

COMM Courses

Comm 415: Communication & Social Protest

Communication 415: Communication & Social Protest

For your literature review, you will need to learn both about the history and background of your topic, and understand what previous research shows about your topic.

Use the News Databases at the bottom of this page for background and history, and choose Scholarly Articles on the left for the best databases for communication.

 

News Databases

Use these databases to explore different types of news sources. Most of what you will find in these databases are news articles, which are very useful, but are non-academic, and not scholarly.

Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly
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.

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Full-text Archive 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.

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Full-text Archive None
Ethnic NewsWatch

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

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

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.

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Full-text 1970 to current All
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.

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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.

Report Problems
Full-text 1808 to 1980 None
Research Topics: 

Need Help?

Allison Carr

Academic Transitions Librarian
Allison Carr, Academic Transitions Librarian
acarr@csusm.edu
760-750-4337
Office Location: 
KEL 3425

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