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Why use this guide?
This research guide is for students studying mass media and mass culture and is designed to help you identify, analyze, choose and locate appropriate scholarly information sources, including peer-reviewed journal articles. This guide concentrates on electronic resources, especially those commercial databases that index and abstract scholarly and professional literature in communications and related areas. In many cases, links to the full-text of the article, chapter, paper, or even the entire book are also provided. Whatever the resource, the assumption is that it has gone through review processes designed to assure that it meets academic publishing standards.
Why pre-plan your research?
What is a search strategy? A search strategy is a plan for conducting research, ergo much of it is done BEFORE you actually jump into the process itself. A research plan could include:
- Understanding your assignment and asking for clarification early on if you need to do so.
- Being aware of your deadlines. The more in-depth and comprehensive your research needs to be, the more time you will need for it.
- Identifying a topic you would like to research (or something of interest to you in a topic assigned to you).
- Gathering background information to identify what is generally known about your topic and place it in context.
- Formulating an initial research question or questions that will guide you in finding more and specific information about your topic or some aspect of it.
- Deconstructing your research question by identifying important and unique keywords relevant to it.
- Conducting preliminary research in the UK Libraries' catalog or a specialized database to determine, generally, what information exists with which you might work.
- Modifying your research question using techniques to broaden or narrow your searches.
Think about the search words, phrases and combination of terms you might have to use to perform your search and modify your search results. If a database offers a thesaurus, consider using it first to discover the specific language to use when searching that database. Using subject headings or descriptors or searching keywords in the subject field can make your search results more precise. For instance, if you search mass media as a 'keyword anywhere' search in InfoKat, the Libraries' catalog, you retrieve almost 10,000 hits, and the system then asks you to narrow your search. If instead you search mass media as a subject heading, you get many, many fewer hits, and only hits that are specific to your topic.
If you search mass media and mass culture in the thesaurus available in the Communication and Mass Media Complete (CMMC) database, you will see that mass media is considered a subject heading/descriptor; mass culture is not. However, the thesaurus tells you to use "Popular culture" instead of mass culture.
When you search mass media and click on the term, you find
A "Scope" note, i.e., an explanation as to how this term is defined in the CMMC database.
Suggestions for broader terms:
Suggestions for narrower terms:
CHURCH & mass media
MASS media & race relations
MASS media & technology
MEDIA system dependency theory (Communication)
TECHNOLOGICAL determinism theory (Communication)
Suggestions for related terms:
Mass Media Research
If you are doing a comprehensive literature search, you might have to consider the following:
Variant spellings: Orthopedic, Orthopaedic
Variations of a root word: Compute, Computers, Computerized
Singular and plural forms of words
Abbreviations and acronyms: AIDS or Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
Changes in language: Colored, Negro, Black, Afro-or- African-American
Check out Database Searching for tips to help you do the most efficient and effective searching whether you are searching Google or any of the UK subscription databases.
Reference and Information Services
William T. Young Library
Responsibilities: General Reference, Information Literacy and Library Instruction, Reference Collection Management, Academic Liaison for Social Work