This course guide was created for COM 4001: Qualitative Research in Communication.  Below you'll find a range of resources to help you complete your research assignment. You can contact me about getting started; finding data, statistics, or analysis; finding out if you can get access to a specific resource; citing your sources; or anything in between. 

Use the links on the left to navigate around this course guide.


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 research 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.

Finding 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 Communication and methods resources below.  More encyclopedias, companions and handbooks can be found on the Communication E-Reference list and in the library's online catalog.

 Reference Works

 Search for Books

 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)



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.


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 Nexis Uni (Formerly known as LexisNexis Academic).

See also this recent Library Blog post about Fetching Newspapers.


  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is the official authority on all things APA. Stop by the Service Desk to browse a copy. Unfortunately, APA has not produced an online version. 
  • APA Online Guide.  If you find the Publication Manual confusing, try this online guide.  It gives a thorough overview of how to format your paper and cite your sources.
  • Purdue OWL Guide to APA Citation
  • APA Style Blog
    For those trickier scenarios (how do I cite my class notes?  how do I cite a blog post?), try searching the APA Style Blog.  
  • Zotero
    Zotero is a free tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share research. Just download web browser and word processor plugins to get started, or to cite quickly without saving your references, use the Zbib tool.