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COMM 1100: Introduction to Communication (Cunningham) Spring 2023


What is "academic research"?

Academic research includes finding published articles, academic books, and other information written by experts on the topic in order to inform your understanding of an issue, provide background information, and support your argument for a paper or project. 

What is a "database"?

A database is an online collection of information organized so users can easily access that information by searching in various ways. It is different from a search engine, like google, because a library database has information that has been tagged specifically to organize it into categories and subjects for simple access. For example, the library catalog is a database that organizes what the library has in its physical collection for easy retrieval. Different databases have different kinds of information. Gender Studies Collection is a database that contains academic journal articles, magazine articles, and newspaper articles about topics about issues in gender. 

What is an "academic journal"?

An academic journal (also known as a scholarly journal, scientific journal, or peer-reviewed journal) is periodical publication containing articles written by experts in a specific field of study. For example, The Journal of Gender Studies has peer-reviewed articles about the topic written by experts in gender studies. 

What does "peer-reviewed" mean?

Peer-reviewed is a process of which experts (peers) in a field evaluate an article on their subject of expertise before it is published to make sure that the article is accurate and credible. This is a way to ensure the academic quality and truthfulness of scholarly articles.

What is a "peer-reviewed article" or a "peer-reviewed publication"?

A peer-reviewed article has been read, evaluated, and approved by other experts in the field for publication. If you use materials from peer-reviewed publications they have been evaluated by other scholars in the field and determined to be credible and accurate. 

The Research Process

The question "how to do research" is complex. This step-by-step process is here to help you get started. If you need more help, please email me or set up a consultation appointment. 

  1. Choose a topic
    • Create a research question (a question that cannot be answered with a yes or no and has no simple answer)

    • For example: "How do women who are fans of anime negotiate with sexist or hypersexualized images of female characters?" 

  2. Consider Your Information Need

    • What type of information will help satisfy your need?

    • For example: Do I need a primary source, like a testimonial, or a clinical study? A literature review discussing studies that assess people's experiences? Background information about the health care system?

  3. Choose your Search Terms and use Boolean Operators (AND,OR, NOT):

    • Databases require a user to be specific about the information they want

    • You will need to choose search terms based on your research question. Pick out the central ideas in your research question to use as search terms. 

    • Key terms to use as search terms in this example are "women" AND "anime" NOT "men"

  4. Choose a Database to use

    • Choose an appropriate database. 

  5. Evaluate the Sources

    • You need to make sure the information you found is relevant to your needs, accurate, and credible. 

    • It will be helpful to think of these questions when evaluating a source:

      • Who is the author? Are they an expert?

      • Where was this published? Is this a reliable publication?

      • Is the information presented here accurate and/or truthful?

      • When was this published? Is this information up-to-date?

      • What is the purpose of this article? Is it to inform, persuade, or argue?

  6. Incorporate the Source into Your Paper

  7. Cite the Source