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COM210: Interpersonal Communication: Finding Articles

Search tips

Use keywords relating to specific behaviors, IPC theories, and context/type of relationship (workplace, marriage, etc.)

Search for scholarly sources about scholarly theories. If you're lucky, you might find scholarly articles about your case study. If you don't, it's up to you to make the connections between the theories addressed in the articles and your case study.  

Remember, the secondary sources you use should tell you something NEW about the theories and concepts, beyond what you learned in class.  

Suggested Databases

Finding an article full-text from a citation

  1. Determine what kind of source it is. Is it a book chapter? A journal article? 
  2. If it is a book, look in the catalog or WorldCat to see if we own it or if you need to Interlibrary Loan it.
  3. If it is an article, use the Journal List to search for the journal title to see which database it is in. If we don't own it, use Find It to request the title. If it's not in a database, use Interlibrary Loan to request the article.


Searching EBSCO databases

Academic Search Premier is a general database that contains both popular and scholarly articles from a variety of disciplines and sources. Great place to start if you need to confirm the viability of a topic.

The tips in this video will apply to most other EBSCO databases as well, including SocINDEX, ERIC, , and more. Subject specific databases like those may have some special features like unique limiters, but otherwise they will function the same way. The name of the database will be listed above the search bar:

How to get full text of an article from a database?

Some articles are full-text in the database you selected to search in. Other times it may be located in one of the other 50 databases we subscribe to. Sometimes you'll find a citation for an article we don't have immediate access to; we can usually get you these as well. This service is part of your affiliation with the university; don't ever pay for access to an article. We can typically get it for you. This will show you how to do that.

Searching JSTOR

JSTOR is a general database that contains primarily full-text scholarly articles from a variety of disciplines. It differs from other UD databases in the fact that it searches the entire full-text of the articles, but has few options for limiting searching and no subject headings. This database is particularly useful when you already know some specifics about your topic.

What's the difference between scholarly and popular again?

You've heard there's a difference between scholarly and popularly sources. Check out this sock puppet theatre video to give you an idea of the difference.

Scholarly Sources vs Popular Sources from Kimbel Library on Vimeo.

That's not all though. Don't forget to think about who wrote the articles and who they are written for. Scholarly articles are written by...wait for it...scholars. And by scholars, we mean professors, researchers, and scientists: people who are experts in their fields. So who writes popular articles? For the most part it's journalists, whose expertise is usually writing, not the content area they are writing about.

As for audience, scholarly articles are written for other experts in the field and students in those areas. This means you'll sometimes get words or specialized terms that you may not know. Don't be afraid to look them up. Popular sources are written for everyone, so you get generalized language that might be a bit less specific.

Google Advanced Search

Determine credibility!

There are some things to consider when determining source credibility. Try using the CRAAP method.*

  • Currency: Is the information up-to-date? If a web source, do the links work & has it been updated recently?
  • Relevance: Did you consider many sources before selecting those you'll use?
  • Authority: Is the author a professor/researcher in communication, psychology, education, business, or a field related to the topic? Does he/she have credentials that qualify them to write about this? Who is the sponsoring organization?
  • Accuracy: Is the information accurate?  Did you compare it with other sources you have located?
  • Purpose: What is the author's intended goal?  Trying to provide research results to other researchers (scholarly)?  Trying to sell something (popular)? Trying to summarize research for the general public (popular)?  Is the audience the general public or scholars/students?

Remember, popular treatments of topics by scholars are fine to use too!

*Developed by Meriam Library, Cal State Chico.