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Journalism & Public Relations: JOUR 418

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Finding Articles from Citations

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Research Skills Module

For your paper you will need to do research. First in choosing your topic and then researching your topic. Here are some tips for that research. Feel free to email me with questions.

Getting Started

Whether your professor gives you a list of possible topics or you choose your own, first:

  • Pick more than one to test. For example, choose a concept and a person. Or an organization and a concept.
  • Choose one current topic idea and one that has more history. Topics with more history will have more scholarly research available. Current topics will rely more on news articles.
  • Choosing more than one will give you an idea of the type of research available for each type.
Notable People Organizations Concepts
Joseph Pulitzer New York Times Social Media
Edward Snowden WikiLeaks Objectivity

Before you choose a final topic, it is important to test a few topics to see what kind of research is available. This will save you lots of time later.

To test your topic ideas, use the OneSearch box on the Library home page. For example, a search for Joseph Pulitzer would yield these 60,000+ results.

A better search is to put Joseph Pulitzer's name in quotation remarks-- "Joseph Pulitzer" --to search for the phrase. It would yield about 12,000 results, including about 1,400 articles from peer reviewed journals (see filters to the left of the results.)

Now search for objectivity. This produces more than 700,000 results, with more than a quarter million articles from peer-reviewed journals. In this case, to filter the results you would want to use the Subject filter to the left of the results. Choose Journalism. This narrows the results to about 2,000.

Now try searching WikiLeaks. How many results did you get? How many are peer-reviewed journal articles? Quiz.

More on OneSearch

Researching Your Topic

Start by searching for books on your topic. If you find a book or book chapter on your topic, it will make your research much easier. 

  • Then filter your results for Books, under Resource Type.
  • Then filter your results for books Available in the Library or books with Full-text online.
  • For some topics, you will want to filter your results by Subject.

Next, choose a database for scholarly journal articles. Databases give you more focused research results.

Other Databases

Database Searching

The first step is to turn your topic into keywords. If your topic is a person, start with their name in quotation marks. Then add keywords to narrow the results. You might want to add Journalism AND History, for example.

Here is a video to help you develop keywords.

Using the Databases

Databases have similar functionality and filtering options, but the interfaces may differ, and they search different journals (although there will be some overlap. The two videos below will walk you through using Academic Search Complete. The examples are from the fields of social work.

Journalism & Public Relations Librarian

APA Citation Resources


Get It @ CSULB

Get It @ CSULB

This button appears in almost all of the Library's research databases (e.g. Academic Search Complete or PsycInfo).

Click the button to search CSULB's subscriptions for full text of your article.

If you have any problems, please report them at the link below: 

Not Available at CSULB?

BeachReach - interlibrary loan heading image

Is your article not available at CSULB?

Put in a request through BeachReach to get full-text of any article. 

You can get to BeachReach from the Get It @ CSULB page when you are searching in the databases.

Need more information on BeachReach? Visit our interlibrary services page.

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