COMM 3995W: Major Project

Exploring Topics

Make a research appointment with Kim, Communication Studies librarian at

When you are ready to start researching your senior project, consider making an appointment with me. We can talk about your research questions, best ways of finding the information you need, and more. Appointments usually take between 1/2 hour and 45 minutes.

In order to arrange an appointment, I'll need to know the following things:

  • Your research topic + research questions you need to find answers for

  • Where you've searched so far for information + the keywords you've used

  • A list of sources you've found so far

Get an overview of a topic   

Before you commit yourself to a topic, think about getting an overview or background information to help you make the best decision.

Think of the suggestions below as reference books. Look and see whether there is a list of sources for further reading or a bibliography. A good reference list can get you off to a great start with researching. 

If you want to find additional background resources, try this search in the catalog at

  • encyclopedia AND one word topic

    • Example search: encyclopedia AND women

Consider making a mind map or an outline.  

An outline [or for non-linear thinkers, a mind map] is an incredible tool to help you write a paper--and research one.
It can help you to:

  • Generate search terms
  • Reveal knowledge gaps
  • Ease transitions between sections of your paper
  • Help with editing/drafting process

While you can certainly use the pencil and paper method, consider using the free online mind mapping tool MindMup or an outline tool, like Workflowy.

Scholarly Journal Articles

Searching for articles can be challenging. To make it a bit easier, think about this:

Where to search || What to search

  • It's quite tempting to start researching without a plan in place, but it's less time-consuming, and more rewarding, to do a bit of pre-search before you research.
  • Consider your research topic, then break it up into search keywords. Separate terms with the word and.
  • Do you need scholarly articles? Editorials or opinion pieces? Magazine articles? Choose the search tool you need based on what you want to find. For example, Lexis Nexis is a great full-text database, but it doesn't cover scholarly journals. JSTOR, while it does cover scholarly journals, has a time lag of about a year or two, so you will not be able to find the most recently published articles there. 

Popular Magazine and Newspaper Articles

Helpful things to know

Preventing plagiarism

Use these tools and services to learn how to incorporate outside researchers' thoughts/concepts/words/phrases into your own work.

Last Updated: Jun 7, 2024 1:38 PM