top of page

Chapter 2

The Research Process: Getting Started


Analyzing Research Manuscripts

This link takes you to an interesting exercise/assignment. Created by Dr. Jennifer Raff, an Anthropology professor at the University of Kansas, she passes on a unique lesson taught her by her professors--how to critically read and analyze scientific papers. This exercise can be adapted for any field of study.

Advice from a Journal Editor

This link will take you to an editorial written by Dr. Paul Schrodt, Editor of Communication Monographs. He describes the quality standards for communication research in this discipline-specific top journal. The standards are difficult to meet, but will help you in making decisions about the quality of journal articles you are reading.

Considering Theory in Research

Here's a list of some of the theories used to study Communication. This site also describes some Communication theories. Another source is this wiki. The most comprehensive source -- Encyclopedia of Communication Theory -- may be in your library. Ask your instructor or librarian if your university has a subscription.

Help in Searching Library Databases

Even if you are a search pro, everyone needs help finding what they want on a database. This website has lots of great tricks and tips for finding what you want.


Do You Have Access to Comserve?

Check to see if your department or university subscribes to Comserve, a website provided by the Communication Institute for Online Scholarship, or CIOS. If not, student memberships are available for a small fee. Besides organizing electronic discussion groups, Comserve also posts reviews of books, highlights new research, provides bibliographies, and posts other things relevant to the community of communication scholars. If your topic is of general interest (for example, effects of media on children, persuasive strategies to facilitate gun control) you can also find discussion groups on any of the web search engines Yahoo or Google. Looking in on these Internet conversations will help you identify issues of popular interest—some of which could lead you to a topic to research.


Online Journals

The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication is one journal that is online and free to everyone, as is the American Communication Journal. Check these out! Also, check here for a complete listing of open access journals (especially good for reading research from outside the U.S.).


Other Ways to Access Scholarly Journals

Most other journals are now only available through institutional or personal subscription services. Check with your library to identify which journals you can access online via your library’s website. It's likely your library has the Communication Source database or the Communication and Mass Media Complete database.


Alternately, if you are a member of the National Communication Association or the International Communication Association, you can access the journals they publish through your membership.


Need Help Writing a Literature Review?

This website from the University of Minnesota, Duluth is thorough; this website from Virginia Commonwealth University helps you start a literature review from the very beginning.

Need Help with APA Style?

I recommend starting on the APA style website. Check under "Style and Grammar Guidelines" to view helpful tips by topic. Need a little more help, the OWL lab at Purdue University provides excellent instruction and tips for APA as well.


Evaluating Resources from the Web

Find something online? Before you use it as a basis for your research study, consider these criteria from Cornell University.


Comparing Qualitative and Quantitative

There are many websites that offer comparisons of quantitative and qualitative research. I encourage you to review these. I believe you’ll find that the question isn’t Which one is right? but Which one is best for the communication question I want to answer? 


Updated August 5, 2020



bottom of page