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Research Guides

Communication (COMM) 359 [Sweet]: Conduct a Literature Search

Need help? Reach out to Jylisa Doney (Social Sciences Librarian) for assistance.

Databases for Communication Studies

Library Databases: Use these resources to search for your topic in multiple journals at once.

Library Databases: Use these resources to search for your topic in multiple journals at once.

Conduct a Literature Search

Library databases and Google Scholar are two of the best resources to use when conducting literature searches.

To find literature about a topic, we first need to identify the topic's key concepts.

Sample Topic: How does social media usage impact young adults' personal well-being and relationships with others? 

  • Key concept 1: Social media
  • Key concept 2: Young adults
  • Key concept 3: Personal well-being
  • Key concept 4: Relationships

The next step is to brainstorm related keywords or synonyms that also reflect the topic's key concepts.

Sample topic: How does social media usage impact young adults' personal well-being and relationships with others? 

Key concepts Related keywords
Social media Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, online social networks
Young adults College students
Personal well-being Depression, anxiety, stress, happiness, isolation, loneliness, mental health
Relationships Friendships, social network, romantic relationships, family relationships,
connectedness, social support, social belonging

The final step is to select a library database and search for the topic using a few different search tricks.

Type your search terms into the search box in a Library database or Google Scholar to find articles related to the topic.

Search trick Example Description
"Quotation marks" "young adults" Each result will contain the exact phrase included in the quotes

AND

Google Scholar: A space = AND

facebook AND relationships

Google Scholar: facebook relationships

Each result will contain all keywords
OR + parentheses () ("social media" OR "online social networks") Each result will contain at least one of the keywords connected by OR and included in the parentheses
Asterisk (*)

happ* = happy, happiness, happier, etc.

Each result will include variations of the root of the
keyword

Combine AND, quotation marks, OR and parentheses, and asterisks * to create a more complex searches.

Example: facebook AND relationships AND happ* AND ("young adults" OR "college students")