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COM 490 COM Capstone: Databases & Articles

Communication Studies Specific Databases

These databases contain scholarly & professional articles on Communication Studies topics.

General Databases

These databases have a variety of sources in them, on a multitude of topics. They're not a bad place to start, but you will have to be careful to make sure you are looking at scholarly articles.

Scholarly VS Popular Articles

Popular articles
Scholarly Articles
Are written for a general audience- not specialists
Are written for professionals or specialists in a field
Are written by journalists
Are written by specialists or professionals in a field
Are stories typically assigned to writers by an editor
Are written by scholars who are sharing their research with fellow scholars. These articles go through a process of peer-review
Are written in language aimed at non specialists- "anyone" can understand
May be written using highly specialized or technical language- the "jargon" of a field
Can be short, to the point, summaries of a story or idea
Are more lengthy, explore a topic in depth
Magazines are often filled with pictures, advertising for general products
Journals rarely have pictures (though there may be graphs of data) and only have professional ads, if any
Never have a bibliography or list of references
Always have a bibliography or list of references

Recognizing Empirical Research

You are being asked to locate and use articles that are "empirical research". Empirical research uses data derived from actual observation or experimentation.

To determine if an article is an empirical research article, use these guidelines:

  • What is the name of the journal? Popular magazines like Newsweek or Time don't publish empirical research articles; publications like  Communication Research or the Journal of Applied Communication Research do.
  • How long is the article? An empirical research article is usually substantial, not 1 or 2 pages.
  • Does the article contain references to other works? Serious researchers always cite their sources.
  • Does the abstract of the article contain variations of the words study, measure, subjects, data, survey, or statistical to describe the empirical research?
    (Finding Empirical Research Articles. University of San Francisco Gleeson Library 11/03 http://www.usfca.edu/library/handouts/researcharticles.pdf Retrieved 8/28/06)

Here are some resources that explain what empirical research is.