Salisbury University Libraries


Holloway Hall
CMAT297 - Communication Research


Hi, I'm Krista Knapp, your friendly research/instructional librarian, and the liaison to the Communications Department.  I'm here to help you with your research for CMAT297.  It is my hope that you will take full advantage of this comprehensive guide as you complete your assignments for this online course.  You will find text, links, and video tutorials to help guide you through the process.  And if you get stuck along the way, you can always come to me for help!

My Famous "Research is a Process Speech" for online students:

Since I don't have the luxury of holding you as a captive audience where you can hear the passion and fire in my voice as I deliver my famous "research is a process speech," you are going to have to settle for the not-as-big-of-an-impact-yet-still-meaningful text version.  Sorry! 

One of the biggest mistakes I see students make is assuming that research is easy or that they can go to one place and get every little resource their heart desires.  It just isn't so!  Otherwise, the world would not need uber-resourceful librarians such as myself!  The trick to research is learning that it's a process and one that is best embarked upon by a patient, open-minded and curious individual.  Be willing to experiment with different keywords and terms, in different combinations.  Not finding enough items?  Try broadening your search.  Finding way too much?  Narrow down your search by adding more terms!  Try playing with the limiters in a database.  Heck, try lots of different databases.  I shouldn't have to say that, but alas, I feel I do.  Be willing to accept sources that are not in super-convenient electronic format.  Go get a dusty journal off the shelf and make a photocopy, direct borrow a book from another USM campus, put those ILL people to work to get something for you!  Find an article that is perfect, then look at that article's bibliography for additional sources.  It would be great if you kept a little journal of your progress, noting where you have searched and what terms you have used.  Make note of what has worked the best.

Most importantly, remember that librarians are your friends and love to do research.  We're here to help!  All you have to do is ask!


You will need to find and use scholarly resources for your assignments.  Students are often perplexed by this concept of scholarly resources.  See below for the lowdown:

Understanding Scholarly Communication

Here are the basics: (Check out this handy dandy chart for more information!)

Popular Magazines:

  • glossy, pretty pages with lots of advertisements and pictures

  • written by hired reporters for a general audience

  • short, easily read articles

Scholarly Journals:

  • somewhat dull looking - very few pictures or advertisements

  • written by experts in the field and reviewed by other scholars before publication

  • long articles with citations and bibliographies at the end

Why can't you just use Wikipedia to get your information?

Wikipedia can be useful for some research, especially popular culture topics, and particularly when the entries are well-documented with citations.  However, it should NEVER be cited in an academic paper.  We have so many authoritative, high-quality resources available in the library and accessible online, that you have no excuse not to use them, especially when you have this super helpful tutorial, right? 

If you need background information on Communications topics, try a reference tool.

Why should you use the library and not just use Google to find some good websites?

Most of the time, scholarly publications are not available to the general public, nor are they available for free on the internet.  Individuals or organizations (such as a library) subscribe to these publications.  Because subscriptions are expensive, many choose to access this content through libraries. 

Often, content from scholarly journals is indexed in databases that the library subscribes to.  The content is on the web, but it is not accessible unless you are affiliated with the institution who is subscribing.  It isn’t the same thing as just finding a website through a regular Google search.  Sometimes the full text of the article is available through the database; other times it is only a citation to the article and you will need to find the print version of the article in the library or order the article through interlibrary loan if we don’t subscribe to it.

So, basically what I'm saying is that the only way you can access this scholarly information for free is by using the library databases! 


Books in Blackwell Library

Find books in Blackwell Library using our online library catalog
.  Books in our library are arranged using Library of Congress Classification.  The books you can check out are located on the second floor of the library.  If you ever have trouble finding a book you want, PLEASE ask for help at the Research Desk!  There is also a form to fill out for books that are supposed to be on the shelf but aren't where they are supposed to be. 

Here is a short online tutorial showing you how to use the SU Catalog.  It's a little out of date because it shows the old website in the beginning, but the rest of it is fine.  There is a new quick search box for books on the library homepage that will take you into the catalog.  Check it out!

Books from other USMAI Libraries

You can also borrow books from any of the USMAI affiliations by selecting the "choose campus" link at the top of the catalog page and then selecting "USMAI All Campuses."  When you find a book you want that is not in Blackwell, click the "request" button and use your ID number to login.  You can have the book delivered to Blackwell within 3 or 4 days.

Here is a short online tutorial showing you how to do Direct Borrowing.

Books from Interlibrary Loan/Worldcat

Interlibrary Loan is a great tool that allows you to borrow a book from libraries outside the USMAI system.  Before you submit a request, make sure that we don't own the book here at SU or at one of the other USMAI institutions.  If not, you can submit a request through ILL Express

You can also search Worldcat, which is a huge catalog of materials from libraries all over the world.  If the book you want is in a library, chances are pretty good you will find it in Worldcat! 
If you find the book you want and you know it is not available at SU or any USMAI campus, then you can click the Find It button and then request the book through Interlibrary Loan.  The advantage of doing it this way is that you don't have to fill in all the information about the book!

Click here to go to the Interlibrary Loan webpage.
Here is a short online tutorial showing you how to do Interlibrary Loan.
Here is a short online tutorial showing you how to use Worldcat.

NOTE:Some tutorials have not been updated since we got the new library website, but they should still be helpful.  Let me know if you have questions!


You are going to need scholarly research articles on communications topics for this class.  If you need a review of what that means, check out this page.

These are databases that might be useful, depending on your topic.  If you need help selecting the appropriate ones, let me know.  However, it is a good idea to check out any that seem remotely relevant.  The best articles could be lurking where you least expect them!

NOTE: If you're off campus, a window will pop up asking for your affiliation with the University of Maryland system and then you will need to type in the 14 digit barcode on the back of your Gull Card as well as your last name.


  • Academic Search Complete - a multidisciplinary database from EBSCO with a mix of scholarly and popular resources, a lot of full-text and Find It links when there is no full-text available

  • JSTOR - scholarly full-text resources; the newest documents are 3-5 years old.

  • Lexis-Nexis Academic - this database contains full-text world news, legal and business information.

  • National Newspapers - a collection of full-text major newspapers including The New York Times and Washington Post.


  • America: History and Life - covers United States and Canadian history, both full text articles and citations for others with Find-It buttons.

  • Business Source Premier - company, industry, business information with the familiar EBSCO interface. 

  • Columbia International Affairs Online - full text theory, research, and case studies on international affairs.

  • Communication & Mass Media Complete - our database for Communication and Media studies!  An EBSCO database like Academic Search Complete, you will find both scholarly, popular and trade sources as well as full text and citations.  This is probably the single best database to find scholarly communication articles!

  • CQ Weekly - Congressional Quarterly Weekly -  your opportunity to find out what's going on in Congress!

  • ERIC - "Education Resources Information Center," a database with full text education articles and ERIC documents as well as Find It links to non-full text resources.

  • Health Source: Consumer Edition (Provides access to nearly 80 full text, consumer health magazines on topics concerning medical sciences, food sciences and nutrition, childcare, sports medicine and general health.)

  • Health Source: Nursing / Academic Edition (Scholarly full text journals focusing on many medical disciplines.)

  • Humanities International Complete - database covering the Humanities with quite a few Communications journals included.

  • MEDLINE (EBSCO: Provides authoritative medical information on medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, the health care system, pre-clinical sciences, etc.)

  • Nursing & Allied Health Source (ProQuest: Find complete, full-text information from leading nursing, allied health, and related publications. Designed to meet the needs of researchers at health-care facilities as well as students enrolled in nursing and allied health programs at academic institutions.)

  • PsycINFO - the gold standard database for psychology and related fields.

  • Social Sciences Abstracts - articles and citations for interdisciplinary fields such as addiction studies, anthropology, corrections, economics, gender studies, gerontology, minority studies, political sciences, psychology, sociology, and more

Hints for the EBSCO Databases:

Try searching the EBSCO databases simultaneously.  There is a dropdown menu where you can select the databases you want to search.  I recommend Communication and Mass Media Complete, Academic Search Complete, Humanities International Complete, and PsycINFO for the best articles on Communication.  You can also use the Refine Search tab to limit your search to Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Sources!

Find It Button/ILL

Sometimes the article you want is not available in its entirety (we call that "full text" in the biz) in the database you're in.  Well, then what?  Nearly all of our databases that don't have complete full-text will have Find-It Buttons.

What does that cute little Find-It Button do, anyway?

First off, this is what you're looking for:

It's a bit like magic, really.  The Find It button does three things:

  • Looks in all of our databases to see if the document you want is available full-text in another of our databases.  If so, it links you to it!

  • Links you to the library catalog when we have the item you want in print or microform.

  • Links you to ILLiad (interlibrary loan) so you can borrow the item from another library if we don't have access electronically or in print.

The Find It button is YOUR FRIEND!!!  View this tutorial to see the magic in action!

Another bit of magic...

You can also use the Citation Linker, another fabulously cool tool.   It is useful when you are reading an article and it cites another article that looks like it would be super useful for your research.   You plug in the citation information for that article and can find out how to access it, whether it be electronically, physically in the library, or through Interlibrary Loan.  It works the same way as Find It, but you don't have to be in a database.

Watch this tutorial on how to use the Citation Linker!  This link takes you directly to the Citation Linker.

Interlibrary Loan, affectionately known as ILL

Interlibrary loan is for when we don't have an article available in print or electronically, meaning we just don't subscribe to it here at Blackwell.  The good news is that we're usually able to get the article for you from another library, either in print or electronically.  You do have to register to use the service.  Please visit the Interlibrary Loan website for more information and to get an account.   You won't be sorry!  My guess is that you are GOING TO HAVE TO USE ILL to get the resources you need for CMAT297.  My best advice is to start early so you have time to get the resources in and use them for your project.

View the Interlibrary Loan tutorial.  Come on, you know you want to!



Always make sure that internet resources are appropriate for your project. 
Look at the criteria listed on this website for more information.

If you have questions about the appropriateness of a website, please check with your professor or a librarian. 

See below for websites that I recommend for gathering government information or statistical data.  And by the way, finding statistics can be challenging, so PLEASE ask for help if you can't find what you're looking for!

Government Information/Statistics

Also here's some help on writing Literature Reviews:


Of course you want to make sure you give proper credit to any source that you use to write your papers, whether you directly quote or paraphrase. 

Whatever you do, you want to avoid plagiarism.  Sometimes students don't mean to plagiarize, but when things are cited improperly, it's still plagiarism whether it was intentional or not.  This guide helps students understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it:

Librarians are sometimes called upon to check out cases of suspected plagiarism.  Because we are expert searchers, we can often uncover the sources of the lifted text.  So, just keep in mind that at some point I could be searching suspicious phrases from you paper and ascertaining whether or not they are cited correctly <evil grin>!

Here are some APA Citation Guides:

If you ever have questions about how to cite something, let me know.  Librarians answer citation questions all the time and even though we may not have the answers stored conveniently in our brains, we can help you look up the answer in a manual or online citation guide.


Help from Krista:

I'm available to help you in a variety of ways with your research for CMAT297.  I love to help students, so please don't ever feel like you are burdening me or bothering me if you come to me for help!  It's my job!

  • You can visit me in person in my office, Blackwell Library 128 (it's best to make an appointment)

  • You can reach me by phone, 410-677-0118.

  • You can reach me by email:

Other sources of help:

If I'm not around in the library, another librarian can help you.  Just stop by the Research Services desk on the main floor and see is available.  You can also try our chat service.

You can also get help 24 hours a day/7 days a week through the Maryland AskUsNow chat reference service:

The Communications Subject Guide has more general help for Communications Students, so feel free to check it out!

Subject Guide Home | Library Home

The library liaison to Communication is Stephen Ford, | 410-677-0118