Selecting a Topic & Background Research

The Library has a large number of subject specific online encyclopedias, companions and handbooks with exhaustive and well-researched entries written by subject experts. These essays are generally helpful startiing points and can help you in defining and focusing your topic. Essays generally include bibliographies that will lead you to further sources on your topic.

Find a sampling of useful sociology and methods resources below.  More encyclopedias, companions and handbooks can be found on the Communication E-Reference and Biographies E-Reference lists and in the library's online catalog.

 Recommended E-Reference Resources

  Encyclopedia of African American Education

  Encyclopedia of African American Society

  Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History

  Encyclopedia of Black Studies

  Encyclopedia of African American actresses in film and television


Scholarly Research: Books

While researching your topic, don’t forget to take a look at the vast collection of books Falvey has to offer.  You are probably accustomed to finding scholarly articles as part of a research project, but books are also a significant area of scholarly publishing.  They are also an important source for more in-depth background information.  You will want a working konwledge of your topic before completing an oral history, even if you are not writing a tradtional research paper. 

Often it is easier to review a book on your topic before beginning your article searches.  A book can give a broader perspective on your topic, while journal articles tend to be very narrowly focused.  Even if you do not reference the book in your term paper, it can still serve as an important source for finding key scholarly research articles on your topic.

To search for books, go to the library’s Search tab, and then click the smaller Books & More tab.  You can search for keywords, or you can use the drop-down menu to search for specific titles or authors.

For example, check out this search for African American 20th Century biographies.  Add keywords or use the links on the right to narrow your search.

Or, check out this search for African American media representation.

Don’t forget to hit the stacks! (Or, click through to our many online and e-books.)

Scholarly Research: Articles

Article databases can be searched using key terms to find these articles.  There are several useful databases in communicatoin:

 Search for Articles

These search engines will help you identify articles on your research topic. Enter one search term on each line, then use the filters to limit by date range and to focus on subjects that are relevant to your research question.

  Communication & Mass Media Complete (EBSCO)

  Film & Television Literature Index (EBSCO)

  Project Muse

  Sociological Abstracts (ProQuest)

  ComAbstracts (CIOS)

  Communication Abstracts (EBSCO)


News Sources

The Library subscribes to a variety of newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post,  and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Access to the text of many newspapers is available through Proquest Newspapers and Lexis Nexis Academic.

Conducting An Interview

Conducting a research interview or oral history can be very challenging.  Luckily, there are resources available to help.

 Before you dive in, research techniques and best practices with these handbooks and manuals for oral histories.  Then, see some examples of oral histories.

African American Oral History Project from University of Louisville University Libraries

Civil Rights Documentation Project

Story Corps from NPR




APA Style

Using a particular writing style, such as APA can be challenging.  Don't worry, the library is here to help!

Whether writing your reference list by hand or proofreading a bibliography, you will definitely need to have the APA rules on hand.  Check out the resources below:

  • If you find the Publication Manual confusing or scary (or both), try the APA Online Tutorial.  This video guide is clear and easy to watch.  It gives a thorough overview of how to format your paper and cite your sources.
  • For those trickier scenarios (how do I cite my class notes?  how do I cite a blog post?), try searching the APA Style Blog.  This is another official APA site, so it is an authoritative source.



As you prepare your presentation, pick up some tips from the library’s resources.  See this handy guide on Business Presentations from Linda Hauck.  These recent books are also helpful guides to presenting:

Presentation Skills for Students cover Presentation Skills for Students
by Joan Van Emden & Lucinda M. Becker
Palgrave Study Skills

Presenting with Power
E-book version
by Shay McConnon


Giving Presentations
by Jo Billingham
One Step Ahead

Power Points!: How to design and deliver presentations that sizzle and sell
E-book version
by Harry Mills

If your presentation includes a PowerPoint slide, handouts, or any type of material that makes reference to or displays the work of others, be sure to follow the University’s Academic Integrity policy.  It is important to attribute the work of others, and APA citations may be appropriate.  Cite all references to the work of others, and be sure to attribute all images and other media to their original authors.  Please see the library’s guide to Academic Integrity for more information.