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Start with overviews
The best way to start a research project is by reading overviews of your topic. An overview is a text that summarizes the basic facts about your topic.
Examples of overviews:
- Encyclopedia articles
- Study guides
An overview is just a starting point. Don't cite overviews. The reason why we don't cite overviews is that they don't provide any original information -- they only give you a condensed summary of what other people have said about the topic. Instead of citing an overview, read the overview and write down clues that you could search for in Quest or the library databases, to find sources that you can cite.
Clues you might find in overviews:
- The names of important people, places, and things.
- Other sources that you could cite (listed as citations).
What about Wikipedia?
Is it okay to use Wikipedia for a college research project?
Yes, but only as a starting point.
Wikipedia is an excellent starting point. You should use Wikipedia! Read Wikipedia articles, and write down clues that you find. Follow the citations at the bottom of Wikipedia articles. Use these clues to find sources you can cite.
Don't cite Wikipedia.
Don't assume that everything you read in Wikipedia is true. Treat Wikipedia as a collection of valuable rumors. Follow up on each rumor, using trustworthy sources, to see whether the rumor is true.
A reference book is a book that contains short overviews or summaries of many topics. Encyclopedias are the most common type of reference book. You can find reference books in the Reference section, which is on the first floor of Simpson Library.
Here are some reference books that I recommend for Communication topics:
Encyclopedia of Communication and Information by The "Encyclopedia of Communication and Information provides a comprehensive overview of universal modes of communication, the media, theories of communication and their implications, careers in communications and information, and biographies of notable figures in the field.
Call Number: Simpson Reference P 87.5 .E53 2001
Publication Date: 2001
Encyclopedia of Communication Theory by The Encyclopedia of Communication Theory provides students and researchers with a comprehensive two-volume overview of contemporary communication theory. Reference librarians report that students frequently approach them seeking a source that will provide them with a quick overview of a particular theory or theorist - just enough to help them grasp the general concept or theory and its relation to the discipline as a whole. Communication scholars and teachers also occasionally need a quick reference for theories. Edited by the co-authors of the best-selling textbook on communication theory and drawing on the expertise of an advisory board of 10 international scholars and nearly 200 contributors from 10 countries, this work finally provides such a resource. More than 300 entries address topics related not only to paradigms, traditions, and schools, but also metatheory, methodology, inquiry, and applications and contexts. Entries cover several orientations, including psycho-cognitive; social-interactional; cybernetic and systems; cultural; critical; feminist; philosophical; rhetorical; semiotic, linguistic, and discursive; and non-Western. Concepts relate to interpersonal communication, groups and organizations, and media and mass communication. In sum, this encyclopedia offers the student of communication a sense of the history, development, and current status of the discipline, with an emphasis on the theories that comprise it.
Call Number: Simpson Reference P 87.5 .E496 2009
Publication Date: 2009
Encyclopedia of International Media and Communications by Everyone agrees that we're living in the Information Age. How have we shaped the Information Age, and how has it shaped us? The Encyclopedia of International Media and Communications exhaustively explores the ways that editorial content--from journalism and scholarship to films and infomercials is developed, presented, stored, analyzed, and regulated around the world. For readers and researchers of all levels, the Encyclopedia provides perspective and context about content, delivery systems, and their myriad relationships, as well as clearly drawn avenues for further research.
Call Number: Simpson Reference P 87.5 .E535 2003
Publication Date: 2003
Dictionary of Media and Communication by The Watson and Hill Dictionary has long been a classic of its kind, a "must" for university and college booklists and both students and teachers of communication. This new edition takes into account recent developments in communication while at the same time retaining historical perspectives. There are over 50 new entries as well as substantial updates in areas such as Intercultural communication, public relations, and marketing communications. Major events, such as the "war on terror" and the military occupation of Iraq, have raised issues concerning the gathering and presentation of news. Journalism in all its forms has been put on the spot, censored, and pilloried. The transmission of information and images has, through the availability of computers and mobile phones, become open province for members of the public to make their own news. At the same time, governments are legislating to rein in hard-won liberties. Who can remember what RIPA is all about; what are PSYOPS and SLAPPS; what did the HUTTON REPORT have to say about the BBC? What you don't know can sometimes damage your health. The Dictionary of Media and Communication responds to a vital need of all citizens in the 21st century to be media literate by developing a better understanding of the contexts in which interpersonal, group, national, and international communication takes place. The Seventh Edition includes: * More on European and US media and on globalization * More coverage of war and representation * Includes a list of useful websites * Greatly increased coverage of new media * More detail about Marketing and PR * Updated chronology section
Call Number: Simpson Reference P 87.5 .I5 1989
Publication Date: 2006