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Communication Research Guide

Research Guide for Communication majors and students enrolled in Communication classes

Finding Articles

How Do I Find Scholarly, Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles? 

The library has journal articles in 3 primary formats: print, microfilm, and online. Although you may find some older journals that are in print or microfilm, the best way to find current scholarly articles is to look online. 

You can find them in 3 different ways: 

  1. The OneSearch discovery tool on the library homepage
  2. Searching databases directly. Each database provides access to different journals. 
  3. Google Scholar (see below) 

I'd suggest using more than one of the three tools for finding online journals articles above. No one is better than another, but they may yield different results. Each is described in detail below. 

Using OneSearch to Find Articles

Using OneSearch to Find Articles

1. Start on the library homepage, and in the OneSearch box, enter the keywords for your topic and click Articles. 
Hint: Keep your keywords simple and avoid any unnecessary language (e.g. and, the, of, about, effects, influence, etc...). A quick search on Wikipedia can often help you find search terms that you can use to look for articles. Make a list of synonyms and related terms and use those in your search. 

2. The next page will display your results.  On the left side of the screen, click the option for Peer Reviewed Journals.  Articles with full text will display an "online full text available" link. Articles without full text can be requested through Interlibrary Loan. 


Using the Library's Databases

How to Find Databases in Your Research Area

  1. Start at  the Library Homepage
  2. Beneath the search box, choose the link Databases by Subject
  3. Select English from the list of subjects. Here you will see a list of databases that are relevant to this subject. Click on the database name to search directly. Remember that it's always a good idea to search in more than one database. 
  4. Other subjects: If your topic isn't in the area of literature in English, try exploring other subject categories. 
  5. When you get your results list, click on the link that says "Find It @ Fresno State" in the article you want to see if the library has it in another database or in print or microfilm. You will sometime also see a PDF or HTML link from the article that will take you directly to the full text.

Databases to Start with For Communication Research

See below for some databases to start with when researching topics in communication. Remember, due to the interdisciplinary nature of communication studies, other databases in topics such as psychology, mass media and journalism, and sociology (to name a few) may also be worthwhile to explore. Click here for a subject list of links to all the databases provided by the library.
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Communication & Mass Media Complete [EBSCO] is a robust communication studies database. It provides full-text, indexing and abstracts for many top communication journals covering all related disciplines, including media studies, linguistics, rhetoric and discourse. 

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Academic Search Ultimate An excellent starting point for any topic, Academic Search Ultimate contains over 13,000 academic journals, magazines, and newspapers. Content covers all subject areas with material from 1887 to the present.

Google Scholar

Using Google Scholar

Google Scholar is also a great tool for finding scholarly content, including journal articles. If you aren't on the Fresno State campus, the first thing you will need to do is to change your settings in Google Scholar to link to the library's holdings information (so you can find out if and where we have it and how to get the full text). If you just click on the title of an article in Google Scholar, you will most likely be asked to purchase the article. 

1. First, click on the "Settings" link in Google Scholar

2. Then, click on "Library Links." 

3. Next, search for "Fresno State" and check the box next to "CSU Fresno - Find it at Fresno State" and click "Save." 

4. Now, when you do a search in Google Scholar, you will see an extra link either below or to the right of the article citation (you may need to click on "More" to see it). 

5. The Find it @ Fresno State page tells you where to access the full text if we have it or will link you to interlibrary loan to request it (may take up to 2 weeks, but most arrive much quicker). Keep in mind that most of the library's articles are available electronically through the databases but there are some that are in print or microfilm. Stop by the Research Help Desk on the first floor of the library if you need help finding these articles.

Interlibrary Loan

Didn't Find What You Were Looking For? Request It From Another Library. 

The Library offers two options for requesting materials from other libraries:


  • Find and request books and media from all 23 CSU libraries. 
  • Materials arrive in 2-4 business days
  • Most books have 60 day lending periods, no renewals. Media items (DVD's, audio CD's, etc.) usually 30 days, no renewals
  • Select the CSU+ Books and Media collection in Onesearch to find and request materials

Interlibrary Loan

  • Request articles and books not in CSU+ (not textbooks) through interlibrary loan
  • Books typically arrive in 7-10 business days, articles in 2-3 business days
  • Loan period for books varies, as is set by lending library. Articles arrive in PDF format and are accessible for 30 days
  • To request an item, log into your interlibrary loan account, and fill out a new request form

Search Tips

Using Boolean Logic

You can use Boolean logic when you are searching a database for journal articles. Boolean "operators" (AND, OR and NOT) define the relationships between the terms you enter in the search bar(s).


  • AND can be used between terms to expand the search to include all terms (ex. search for the terms "travel" and "Europe")
  • OR allows for results that contain at least one of the terms you enter (ex. "college" OR "university")
  • NOT excludes terms so that you can specificy that search results not contain certain terms (USE WITH CAUTION)

The following table illustrates the operation of Boolean terms:

Each result contains all search terms. Each result contains at least one search term. Results do not contain the specified terms.
The search heart and lung finds items that contain both heart and lung. The search heart or lung finds items that contain either heart or items that contain lung. The search heart not lung finds items that contain heart but do not contain lung.

Other Search Tips: 

  • Use quotation marks to search for terms together (useful when searching a certain phrase or the title of an article) ex. "social networking"
  • Use an asterisk (*) to search for alternate word endings (ex. immigra* retrieves immigration, immigrant, immigrants, immigrated, etc...)