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CMN 505: Methods in Applied Communication Research

This guide supports the Methods in Applied Communication Research course. Discover how to find information from multiple perspectives surrounding a topic.

General Questions

How can I search for social science articles across multiple databases?

You can do this in a variety of different ways. You can either use a very broad database or search engine such as google scholar or Academic Search Premier. Academic Search Premier is an EBSCO database. The EBSCO databases are comprised of hundreds of databases that have accesses to thousands of journals and millions of articles, many of which are peer reviewed scholarly articles. One important feature is that you can search across multiple EBSCO databases at the same time. So for example if you are doing research in the social sciences you can search through all the EBSCO social science databases all at once!

For more information on searching in multiple databases, click here.

Should I search within a specific database, or broader one like Academic Search premier?

It depends. If you have a broad topic and haven't narrowed down your field of research, or if your topic is highly interdisciplinary, you should use a broader database like Academic Search Premier. On the other hand, if you have a very specific research topic, then you would use a database that is specific to that topic only.

What is "one search" useful for? And less useful for?

One Search is useful if you are at the very beginning of your research. One search is very broad, and searches everything owned by ASU Library. Because of this, One Search should be used for very broad research, in order to find out what resources are available to you, but not for in depth research.

What's the deal with e-books? Are there different sources of them?

ASU Library has ebooks available through multiple platforms. Each platform has different regulations for how you can use the ebook, and even each ebook purchased has different restrictions as determined by publishers. 

How do I find scholarly encyclopedia entries? Are they useful?   

There are multiple scholarly encyclopedias available through the ASU Library databases. Scholarly encyclopedias are a good way for you to be introduced to a topic and the experts on that topic. These entries will help you begin your research and give you excellent background information for which to base your research on.

Your Questions

Where can I find primary sources in this library? (Government documents, treaties, census)

ASU Library provides access to multiple databases where you can access primary sources in your field. For in depth information on what primary sources are available to you visit the Primary Sources Library Guide. Alternatively, visit the Archives and Special Collections located in Hayden Library. 

Where can I find primary, secondary and tertiary sources within the health sciences field in the ASU library?

For more in depth information on primary, secondary, and tertiary sources in Health Sciences and examples of each visit this page. For lists and information on Health Science Databases available through ASU Library visit the Health Sciences Library Guide.
Where and how can I access scholarly documentaries?

How can I pull  "literature review" articles from a library database, like psych lit or Comm & Mass media? 

Literature reviews are generally published as journal articles, so finding them in the library involves the same process as looking for other types of articles: search an article database. If you are looking for already-published literature reviews, try the following:

  • In an article database, search for the keywords “literature review” or “review” (in title or topic) in addition to your topic keywords
  • Some article databases have “reviews” coded as a separate article format. For example, Web of Science lists “reviews” under document type. Do a topic search, then click this box to refine to only review articles. In some databases (such as BIOSIS) this is called literature type. Pubmed includes Review as a filter under “type of article”. In PyscINFO, include “literature review” as a methodology.
  • You will still need to look at the papers you find to determine if they are truly literature reviews. Access the full-text of the paper and read the first page or two. If it reports original research results, it’s not a review article. Most reviews explicitly state that they are reviewing the literature in the abstract or first paragraphs, or use the phrase “We review recent studies” or similar. Review articles also typically cite dozens of other papers in their quest to be comprehensive, so their bibliography sections are longer than usual.
  • Remember not all specific topics have review papers already published on them – you may need to broaden your keywords (by using fewer or less specific terms) to find a review of your subject.


How can I locate articles that are most recent?

Most databases will offer you the option to "refine search results" both before and after your search. To find the most recent articles select the dates you'd like to see and refine the search. Alternatively, many databases also allow you to sort the search results by "Date Newest."

How can I save the articles within a specific database, such as EBSCOhost? 

To save articles either export the desired article to a Citation Manager of your choice, or click the folder with a "+" to temporarily save multiple articles to a single folder for export or download later. For more in depth information visit the EBSCO How To page.

How can I connect more than one phrase (such as relationship dissatisfaction and disloyalty in relationships) while searching for articles?

Many databases now automatically connect search topic for the user. Alternatively, you can use Boolean Operators to connect topics and phrases in order to broaden or narrow your search. Check out these Google Scholar search tips for a brief explanation of Boolean Operators, or view the diagram below.

How can I figure out whether a study with the same (or very similar) RQ has already been done?

There are multiple methods to finding an article with a similar research question (RQ) depending on the database being used. In Google Scholar, you can click on the "related articles" link to find other similar studies. Alternatively, in other databases that  don't offer this option you can repeat the search using different combinations of the "subject terms" listed in the article.

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