CMNS 801: Research Methodology for Graduate Students

The following guide is intended to be an introduction to higher level research strategies appropriate for finding peer-reviewed articles and other scholarly content, whether investigating appropriate research methodologies, identifying key literature, staying current in your field, etc.  There are also links to research tools and services intended to save you time and support your work as a graduate student.

As the liaison librarian for Communication at SFU, I'd be pleased to consult about your specific research needs, whether it's tracking down a specific title, identifying relevant literature or managing the information flow.

Powerpoint slides from Jan 17, 2022, Zoom workshop with Sylvia Roberts, Liaison Librarian, and Robyn Long, Graduate Writing Coordinator

Contact info

If you need help, please contact Sylvia Roberts, Liaison Librarian for Communication & Contemporary Arts at 778.782.3681 or or Ask a librarian.

Literature Review

Communication research is widely cross-disciplinary. Your research interests may also be served by databases covering related fields (sociology, political science, computing science, health sciences, business, cultural institutions).  You can find databases grouped by subject (disciplinary groupings) or try searching a multi-disciplinary sources like Google Scholar, to help you identify research across fields.

DON'T miss these key tools:

Communication & Mass Media Complete Indexes complete contents of more than 500 journals related to communication & media studies, with selected indexing of 150 more journals, with good coverage of linguistics and film as well

Web of Science  Index to articles in major journals in science, technology, social sciences with some arts & humanities content.  NO controlled vocabulary so you need to use synonyms and related terms to ensure comprehensive searching.  Enables citation searching and for "related records", article that have citations in common, even if they don't cite each other.

Google Scholar  Indexes the full text of articles, books, reports, academic web sites, reports, etc.  Good for cross-disciplinary and emerging fields of research. Relevancy ranking are citation counts are questionable; seems to be more of a popularity contest.

Oxford Bibliographies Online provides annotated bibliographies to key scholarly texts, organized by discipline and research theme. The entries are written by experts and reviewed regularly.  An excellent starting point for locating important literature and scholarly sources on a topic. Focuses on the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

NOTE:  If you can't get it at SFU, in print or electronically, use our Interlibrary Loan service to request it. There are no limits on the number of requests you can make and there's no charge for the service. 

Most of our article indexes have a Get@SFU link embedded in the record which allows you to find SFU library holdings for the article (print or online) or request it.
  • WorldCat lets you search holdings of major research libraries in North America and Europe, including (selectively) archival and media holdings, web sites, etc.
  • ProQuest Dissertations and Theses an index to PhD and Master's theses in all subject areas. Along with social media and conference proceedings, you can use t a view into recent research by emerging scholars, as well as another source of scholarship to mine for sources.
  • Archival materials

Research methodology

Tracking your research

  • Citation or reference management tools collect your journal article, book, or other document citations together in one place, and help you create properly formatted bibliographies in almost any style — in seconds.  Citation management tools help you keep track of your sources while you work and store your references for future use and reuse
  • NVivo can be used to track sources and may be worth using if you're familiar with it.  The Research Commons offers a workshop on using it for that purpose.

Current awareness

NOTE: Add the SFU Off-campus bookmarklet to access full text when you're off campus and viewing tables of contents or RSS feeds directly from the publisher

Research funding

Scholarly writing