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Communication & Mass Media

The library offers this guide to resources as a way to support student understanding and awareness of the history, study, and contributions in the field of speech or communication and mass media studies.


This guide summarizes library and other resources useful for speech, communications, and mass media studies research projects, including books, databases, journals, and websites. Information in this guide will be useful in a communication studies degree or certificate program, for additional or supplemental information for any course or program, for research projects that focus on topics in the subject, or for personal interest, enjoyment, and enrichment.

Citation Styles

Always ask your instructor what citation style should be used for research projects. See below for links to helpful resources.

Narrowing and Focusing Topics

BROAD TOPICS are generally phrases that describe a big idea or thing:

  • Gun control
  • Immigration
  • Global warming
  • Healthcare

RESTRICTED TOPICS may only be one part of the broad topic or they may link two different ideas.  In the examples below, “water pollution” is a particular type of pollution; “Nutrition and pregnancy” links the broad topic of nutrition with pregnancy to focus it.

NARROWED TOPICS give your research more focus.  In the examples below, “Pollution in San Francisco Bay” is still looking at “water pollution” – but only water pollution in a particular location.  “Commercial salmon fishing” is looking at the salmon fishing industry, rather than at sport fishing.

As you do your research, you need to ask very specific, focused questions to find out the information for your paper.

  • You will usually need to ask very specific, focused questions to find out the information for your paper.
  • Your questions should generally ask for facts, not opinions, (if your questions start with "Should", you're asking for an opinion!)
  • Remember:  Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?

Who     =   People
What    =   Facts; causes and effects
When   =   Time
Where  =   Place(s) or geographical information
Why     =   Reasons
How     =   Methods (How many, How much = Statistics, amounts)

How to broaden, restrict, and focus research questions.

Broad Topic

Restricted Topic

Narrowed Topic

Focused Research Question #1

Focused Research Question #2

Pollution water pollution pollution in San Francisco Bay What is the most common pollutant in the bay? Where does the pollution come from?
Fishing salmon fishing commercial salmon fishing When can fisherman legally catch wild salmon? Why don't people only eat farm raised salmon?
Nutrition nutrition and pregnancy vegetarian diets and pregnancy How much protein does a pregnant woman need to eat daily? What foods will provide the most protein in a vegetarian diet?