Selecting a Topic
Sometimes, getting started on a major project can be a significant hurtle. The various paths you can take may feel overwhelming. You’ll be working on your project all semester, so you need to make sure it is a topic you will enjoy. And, your capstone project will need to be unique and thoughtful.
As you consider different topics for your project, use the E-Reference Resources in Communication to gather background information and find out more about that area of study.
For example, if you are considering a study of college students and mobile devices, take a look at the Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies. Or, perhaps you are interested in studying Body Image in Girls and Young Women, which can be found in the Encyclopedia of Children, Adolescents and the Media.
E-Reference Resources can also be very useful when developing your research methodologies, or if you come across unknown terms or ideas as you perform your research. For help with research methodologies, check out the Encyclopedia of Measurement and Statistics, the Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods, or the Sage Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods.
If you plan on performing a survey, the Encyclopedia of Survey Research Methods will be of use to you.
As you gather background information on your topic and prepare your literature review, you will be doing a lot of library research and reviewing many, many articles. It is important to develop a good notetaking system, as well as a method for storing, summarizing, and retrieving articles you have already reviewed. Get Organized!
Communication & Mass Media Complete, Communication Abstracts, and the Film & Television Literature Index, as well as many other useful databases are all available on the EBSCO platform, so you will probably find yourself using it often. You can create a personal log-in account to save article citations in organized and shared folders, and to save useful searches. It will also remember your complete search history if you log in at the beginning of each session.
To create an account, click “Sign In” on the toolbar in the upper right-hand portion of the screen. You can use any log-in and password that you wish. After creating your account, you will still need to access the database through the library homepage.
Refworks is a web-based citation manager. As you search through article databases, you can export citation information directly to Refworks. Citations can then be organized in folders and shared with group members. When the time comes to write your paper, the Write-n-Cite feature can automatically generate your in-text citations as well as your bibliography. Or, you can generate a bibliography of selected citations at any point.
Always double-check for errors! Refworks has a tendency to capitalize incorrectly or improperly list author names. Always have your APA style guide handy.
Books - An Important Scholarly Resource
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. Don’t forget to hit the stacks! (Or, click through to our many online and e-books.)
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.
If your project involves new media, check out the library’s collection of new media books. Here are a couple of highlights:
The Breakup 2.0: disconnecting over new media
by Ilana Gershon
Cornell University Press
Always On: language in an online and mobile world
by Naomi S. Baron
Oxford University Press
Hacking: digital media and technological determination
by Tim Jordan
Digital Media and Society Series
Cambridge Polity Press
Need a book the library doesn’t own? Put a request through our EZ-Borrow or ILLiad services.
Scholarly Journal Articles
Finding scholarly articles is an important step in shaping your research project. This post outlines the key databases for finding scholarly articles in communication. These databases are all very specific to research in the communication arts.
Communication & Mass Media Complete (EBSCO)
CMMC offers cover-to-cover (core) indexing and abstracts for over 300 journals, and selected (priority) coverage of over 100 more, for a combined coverage of over 400 titles. This database includes full text for nearly 200 journals. Many major journals have indexing, abstracts, PDFs and searchable citations from their first issues to the present.
Communication Abstracts (EBSCO)
Abstracts articles from journals, conference proceedings and hard-to-find documents. Includes scientific research and government policies. Distinct from ComAbstracts and ComIndex, Communication Abstracts is produced at Temple University and provides abstracting coverage of books and journals in all areas of communication studies (mass, interpersonal and new communication technologies).
*Can be searched simultaneously with Communication & Mass Media Complete.
The ComAbstracts database contains abstracts of articles published in the primary professional literature of the communication(s) field.
Film & Television Literature Index
A comprehensive bibliographic database covering the entire spectrum of television and film writing. It has been designed for use by a diverse audience that includes film scholars, college students, and general viewers. Subject coverage includes film & television theory, preservation & restoration, writing, production, cinematography, technical aspects, and reviews.
*Can be searched simultaneously with Communication & Mass Media Complete and with Communication Abstracts.
Although it can be tempting to check the “Full Text Only” box as you search, resist the temptation! Checking that box will eliminate articles owned by the library through different vendors, as well as articles not owned by the library, from your results.
Articles owned through different vendors can be easily accessed through the FindIt button. Articles not owned by Falvey Library can be requested through Interlibrary Loan. These requests are usually fulfilled electronically within 5 to 7 days.
Interdisciplinary Scholarly Journal Articles
Databases Beyond Communication
There are many databases that cover the social sciences generally, as well as those that fall under different disciplines entirely, that may be helpful for finding scholarly articles related to your research.
Covers sociological topics in fields such as anthropology, economics, education, medicine, community development, philosophy, demography, political science, and social psychology. Journals published by sociological associations, groups, faculties and institutes, and periodicals containing the term “sociology” in their titles are abstracted fully.
Social Sciences Full-Text
Index to international, English language journals in psychology, sociology, anthropology, geography, economics, political science and law.
Business Source Premier
Business Source Premier is a full text business database, covering management, economics, finance, accounting, international business.
Indexes journals, dissertations and some books in the fields of personality psychology, social psychology, educational psychology and more.
A comprehensive full text database of the newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press.
A full text database of unique and diverse publications that focus on how gender impacts a broad spectrum of subject areas.
Database searching is not the only way to find great scholarly articles for your research project. Once you have found useful articles, pay attention to the sources those authors use to build their own research. It is likely that the sources that were important to those authors will also be important to your research. All scholarly research should include a thorough bibliography or reference list at the end of the article.
To see if Falvey Library owns an article you have seen referenced by other authors, check the Journal Finder or the Citation Lookup. The Finding Full Text guide includes video tutorials that demonstrate how to access full text.
To search Falvey’s book collection, go to the Search Tab. Use the drop-down menu to search by the title or author of the book you are looking for.
Articles and books that are not owned by the library can be easily borrowed through our interlibrary loan system. ILLiad is best for requesting articles, and E-Z Borrow is the preferred method for requesting books that are available in that system.
Checking an article’s reference list is a great way of searching the past for related research, but how can you find out what impact that article had on future research? The Social Sciences Citation Index allows you to do just that.
Choose the Cited Reference Search to search for the author and journal title of an article you have found to be useful. Search to see if other scholars have cited that article since its publication.
Very recent articles will not have been cited yet. Because of the great volume of annual publications, many articles are rarely cited. Also, works may have been cited by research not indexed in SSCI.
Interviews & Surveys
Writing your own survey or conducting research interviews can be very challenging. Luckily, there are resources available to help.
Begin with the E-Reference Resources for Research Methods. These online encyclopedias can clear up any questions you have about research methods or statistical analysis you may have at any stage of the research process.
If you intend to use a survey or questionnaire as part of your research project, take a look at these books regarding survey methods.
Administer your survey online! Survey Monkey is a web-based survey platform. The free version is suitable for most projects. Google Forms can also be embedded into emails or webpages, or sent as links to collect data for a quick questionnaire or survey.
Conducting research interviews can be even more intimidating than writing your own survey. Before you dive in, research techniques and best practices with these books about research interviews and focus groups.
Even though you have been using APA style for the past 4 years, you may be full of dread at the thought of writing your reference list. The library is here to help!
If you have been using Refworks to gather and organize your resources, you’re in luck! Download the Write-n-Cite tool to automatically format your in-text citations and generate your reference list as you type your paper.
Or, use Refworks to automatically generate your bibliography. Once you have logged in, click Create Bibliography. Select your format style, [output] file type, and folder or list of references. Copy and paste the resulting list into your paper. Be sure to check for errors!
Whether writing your reference list by hand or proofreading a Refworks bibliography, you will definitely need to have the APA rules on hand. Check out the resources below:
If you need to see the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association-the official authority on all things APA-stop by the Information Desk to browse a copy.
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.
The Purdue OWL and Research & Documentation Online are clear and easy to understand sources of information for how to use APA style. Since they are not official publications of the APA, check the Publication Manual when in doubt.
Not sure what a DOI is or how to use it? Check out our DOI: Digital Object Identifier guide.
Formatting in APA Style
We all know about APA rules for citing sources and creating a reference list, but it is important to remember that APA style also dictates the way you format and write your paper. If your senior project involves an academic style paper, be sure to format it according to APA style.
Get familiar with the basics of APA style with their online tutorial. For the official rules, see the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. These resources will instruct you on formatting your margins, your title page, writing your abstract, and much more.
If your project is being presented in some other format, such as a PowerPoint presentation, formatting rules are not likely to be covered by APA style rules. This is because the purpose of the Publication Manual is to assist scholars preparing their manuscripts for publication in journals.
However, even in other formats, 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 creators. Please see the library’s guide to Academic Integrity for more information.
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:
Presenting with Power
by Shay McConnon
Power Points!: How to design and deliver presentations that sizzle and sell
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.