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Comm 100: The Mass Media and Society

Instructor Karen Theveny

Getting Started with Your Research

Keywords are an important part of success when using library resources. You can't search like you would in Google and find the best result on the first page. You often have to refine your search terms, and think of your topic in different ways. 

For example, there are a few different ways you might talk about a movie. Somebody else might call it a film. Motion picture. Cinema. Flick. Show. Video. These are all ways that refer to the same thing, though maybe each with a bit different context. It's helpful to keep this idea in mind when coming up with your keywords. 

Another helpful tip is to broaden or narrow your topic as needed. Writing a research paper on "television" would be very difficult. You would not be able to cover this very large topic in your paper. However, writing about game shows during the early days of television is much more manageable. On the other hand, you wouldn't want to choose something so narrow that you would have a hard time writing your required number of pages. 

If my topic is game shows during 1950s television, I have a couple search terms to use. 

television OR TV 


game shows OR quiz shows OR panel show OR quiz program

Now you're ready to start searching the databases! 


General Databases

Search for Books

  • Use the Browse function if you are looking for a specific title or author (type last name first).
  • Use the Keyword function and combine terms to search on a topic then use the subject headings from relevant books for additional search terms.
  • Write down the call number and location for any book you want. If the item is not at your campus use the "I Want It" button to request it. 
  • For electronic books, click the link under the words "online content" to access the full text

Subject Specific Resources