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COMM:5200 Introduction to Research and Teaching - Hayes, Fall 2023: Research Tips

A brief overview of Communication Studies resources for Joy Hayes's Fall 2023 course.

Search terms

Searching a library catalog or database does not always follow the same method as Google or other search engines. You will get the best results on InfoHawk+ if you search using subject headings from the Library of Congress. But how do you find them? Scrolling down in an item's record in InfoHawk+ will typically show the subject headings used and can provide search clues. Some useful subject term examples and formats for research are listed below. 

Fans (persons)

Fandom -- United States

Fan fiction -- history and criticism

Subculture -- United States

Mass media and culture -- United States

Sports -- social aspects

Popular culture -- psychological aspects

Potter, Harry (Fictitious character)

Supernatural (Television program : 2005-2019)

Follow the format listed, even if the subject isn't what you want. For example, if you want Korean fandoms, you would search for Fandom -- Korea or maybe you are interested in Fan fiction -- social aspects instead of Fan fiction -- history and criticism.

Likewise, if you aren't researching the samples above, follow the format and enter your subject. Replace Supernatural and its dates with Game of Thrones (Television program). You aren't required to include the dates, but the general format will remain the same.


Not everyone has heard of Boolean searching...but you may have already performed these types of searches! Here's the quick overview:

What is Boolean?

Boolean logic gets its name from British mathematician George Boole (1815-1864). He devised a symbolic logic method that focused mainly on the operators AND, OR, and NOT. This logic method has been applied to information organization.

Why Boolean?

Using Boolean search operators can lead to more precise results.

How does a Boolean search work?

Three Venn diagrams highlighting AND, OR, NOT



Research Tips

  • Generate a list of your search terms and any synonyms
  • Search for each term in databases or InfoHawk+
  • If searching for a phrase, insert quotation marks around the phrase
  • Limit your search by a date range if you want results from certain years
  • Try your search terms in multiple databases
  • Look at the footnotes and bibliography of scholarly articles - they can lead you to related sources!
  • If you log in to InfoHawk+, you can pin resources that look interesting and come back to them later. It is also easier to request materials if you are already logged in.
  • The first sources that you find may not be the best. Keep looking!

How To Read a Scholarly Article

Reading a scholarly article can be a little intimidating! They follow a unique format and can be quite lengthy. Use this guide to help get a quick understanding of the article before you invest your time in reading the entire piece.

                Infographic on How to Read a Scholarly Article - Read abstract, conclusion, first paragraph, first sentence of each paragraph, then rest of article

         Source: ESL Undergraduate Student Guide, Undergraduate Library, University of Illinois