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Journalism & Public Relations

Guide co-created with Maria Roxana Cruz and Teresa Puente

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Save time by testing a couple topic ideas. If there isn't much research on your first choice, try a different topic.

To test your topic ideas, use the OneSearch box on the Library Home Page. For example, a search for health care AND consumer behavior would yield more than 500,000 results, while a search for homelessness AND consumer behavior yields a little more than 15,000. That still sounds like a lot, until you start to refine your search. How many of those sources are actually ABOUT homelessness (or health care) AND consumer behavior, as opposed to sources that just mention the keywords.

To find out: Use the filters on the left side of the results.

For example: Using the SUBJECT and PUBLICATION DATE filters...

  • 15,000+ results MENTIONING Consumer Behavior AND homelessness drops to less than 1,000 results for sources ABOUT homelessness published since 2000.
  • More than 500,000 results MENTIONING Consumer Behavior AND health care drops to fewer than 20,000 sources ABOUT consumer behavior AND health care published since 2000.

And that's before filtering by Resource Type.

After you get a sense of the quantity of sources on your topic, it’s time to look at the Type of Resources to make sure you find quality academic sources. There are a couple ways to filter the results to assure that:

  • Filter for Reference Entries (If there is something from an academic encyclopedia, it can be very valuable to give an overview, but don't be discouraged if there isn't a relevant reference entry). 
  • Then clear the Reference Entry filter and Filter for Books or Book Chapters (Again, these can be very valuable for an overview.)
  • Then clear the Book filter and Filter for Articles
  • Then Filter for Peer-Reviewed Journals (under Available at CSULB)

One excellent reference book:

Once you have a feel for the research landscape, it's time to dig a little deeper. For this, I suggest using databases (instead of just OneSearch). The reason is that they have more sophisticated filters and you can go into more depth in a discipline. Here are the databases you might find most useful:

Other databases you might find useful

For some topics, you may want to search in a specific discipline database. For example, for hospital public relations you might want a health-care database. You can search our complete list by subject. Or, here are some disciplinary databases used by many Public Relations students:

Crisis Communication

  • Crisis communication*
  • Crisis management
  • Situational crisis communication
  • Risk communication
  • Issues management
  • Corporate Image
  • Truthfulness AND falsehood 
  • Public opinion

  • Social Media
  • Social media
  • Online social network*
  • Microblog*
  • Social Network*
  • Internet in Public Relations
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • TikTok
  • Social media AND [industry]
  • Instagram

Ethics & Diverse Perspectives

  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Codes of ethics
  • Business ethics
  • Culture (OR multicultural OR ethnic* OR latin* OR african american* OR hispanic* OR asian)
  • Diversity
  • Gender (OR LGBTQIA –may have to spell it out)
  • Truthfulness & Falsehood
  • Global OR International


  • Type of celebrity:
  • Sport*
  • Religi*
  • Film* OR TV OR television OR movies
  • Music
  • Influencer*
  • Strategy:
  • Charitable giving
  • Audience involvement
  • Litigation AND public relations
  • Audible Optic*
  • Endorse*
  • Image repair

Searching Public Opinion Polls

The IPoll database searches questions from thousands of reputable polls.