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Communication and Journalism: Getting Started

This is a guide of librarian-recommended resources for research in communication and journalism.

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The Research Process

The most important thing to know about the research process is that you will not always go from step 1 to step 2 to step 3.  The research process is iterative, which means that sometimes you have to re-do certain steps along the way. This graphic shows the various steps you may go through when completing research assignments in your courses. 

(The Research Process Graphic: Authored by: Kim Louie for Lumen Learning. License CC BY: Attribution.)


Choosing Keywords

Keywords are the words that you will put into databases to search for relevant articles on your topic of choice. There are several steps you can take to try and choose the best keywords possible for your research. Try the following three steps to help you find your keywords:

  1. Summarize your topic in just one sentence. Once you've got your sentence, try and circle the major words and/or phrases. These will be your keywords and keyword phrases.

  2. Decide which of your circled words are your primary keywords or keyword phrases. Try thinking of synonyms or alternative words for your primary keywords or keyword phrases. Repeat this process for the other keywords or keyword phrases you circled. PRO TIP: if you aren't sure what the best synonyms are, try using a website like to help you get started. 

  3. Once you've identified your primary keywords and secondary keywords, and all their relevant synonyms and alternatives, try to think of a couple of different subject areas that might have professionals who publish articles about your topic. It's totally okay to search for articles outside of your major field of study. Many topics are interdisciplinary and the perfect article or resource might be in a related field. 

Now that you've got your keywords and a variety of subject disciplines, you can start searching in the UW Libraries' databases. 


Search QuickSearch Scopes

UW Libraries QuickSearch: includes the collections of the University Libraries, UW Law Library, and the American Heritage Center. Searches almost everything.

Use this QuickSearch link to search Books, E-Books & Media.

Lastly, use this QuickSearch link to search Course Reserves.

Interlibrary Loan: UW students, faculty and staff can request books, journal volumes, journal articles and other materials, regardless of whether it is available in the UW Libraries, online or in libraries around the world. A free service! Interlibrary Loan link.

News from the National Communication Association

                                                                        image of the national communication association's logo

Check out the latest tweets from the NCA, a major professional association for the academic study of communication: