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Journalism - Resources for Journalism Graduate Students

You Have a Research Topic, Now What?

Once you have decided on a research topic:

  • Work from the general to the specific.
  • Create a list of concept terms that you want to search.
  • Translate your topic into the subject language of the databases and catalogs you use--check your topic words against a thesaurus or subject heading list.
  • Take advantage of subject headings and descriptors found by exploiting the database thesaurus or subject guide.  Using subject specific "controlled language" will add precision to your search.
  • Exploit bibliographies.  These may lead you to other important resources.
  • Record what you find and where you found it—write out a complete citation for each source you find; you may need it again later. You can use a program like EndNote or Zotero to help with this. 

Where to Begin

What is the most appropriate place to begin research on a topic?

That depends on the subject area or your approach to the topic.

  • If your research can be confined to a specific subject, choose the most appropriate subject database to start your research.
  • If you are unsure of your topic or don't know which databases to search, try the new EBSCO tool:

It will allow you to search across books, journal articles, DVDs, and other media owned by or accessible through MU Libraries.

After you've narrowed your topic, try these resources.

  • Search the online catalog for books on your research topic.
    • Browse the references for author/experts in your area of interest.
    • Searching by subject will provide more focused results.
  • Make sure that you browse the Journalism guide for databases grouped by subject.
  • For journalism and communication topics choose these communication databases first.

Search several databases at one time to see how your topic was used in a variety of subjects.

Search dissertations and theses using:

  • MOSpace Digital Institutional Repository

Most universities make digital copies of their dissertations and theses freely available in their own institutional repositories.  To locate a dissertation from another university, use Google to search the university name and add the term "repository," or go directly to that institution's library and search their online catalog.  Repository items should be cataloged and be searchable in their online catalog.

News Databases, though not peer reviewed, may provide real world context to your topic: