Finding descriptions and discussion of CMNS research methodology

This guide is intended as a brief introduction to finding sources of information about specific qualitative research methodologies, available at the SFU Library and beyond.

You may also be interested in the Media Literature Review research guide which covers sources & strategies for conducting a news media analysis.

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

Finding discussions of methodology

Sage Research Methods Online (2011- ) more than 1,400 unique methods terminology with links to authoritative content in over 600 sources, including handbooks, articles and videos

Below is a sample of recent (2017-2019) titles that focus on social sciences research.  The link will take you to a catalogue record for the source whether print or online.  If the title is linked, it's available online. If [print] is linked, it's a print book that can be borrowed or requested from another SFU Library.

    Use the SFU Library catalogue to find additional books, both online and in print, on specific communication research methodologies. The terms following are subject heading used to describe books, which you can use to search OR follow the links to see a list of titles on the topics.

    To search for books by subject heading, use the Browse Search option in the SFU Library Catalogue, then select Subject browse from the drop-down menu.

    • Research -- 36 Related Subjects
    • Research -- Statistical methods
    • Research -- Methodology
    • Social sciences -- Research -- Methodology
    • Social Sciences Methodology
    • Qualitative research
    • Qualitative Research Methodology
    • Communication Methodology
    • Communication Research
    • Communication -- Research -- Methodology
    • Mass Media Research
    • Mass Media Research Methodology
    • Content analysis (Communication)
    • Participant Observation
    • Interviewing
    • Focus Groups
    • etc.

    Library of Congress subject headings, used in the SFU Library catalogue, have specific sub-headings for format or nature of materials. Subheadings that may help you find pertinent books are "handbooks", "encyclopedias", and "dictionaries". Handbooks are "how-to" sources whereas encyclopedias and dictionaries are primarily descriptive but may have bibliographies for further reading.

    If the methodology that you wish to investigate is not used as a subject heading, use the keyword search function to search for contents notes that include your term.

    Finding studies using and critiques of specific methodologies

    CMNS article index databases

    Search databases that publish scholarly articles in your research area. Research methodologies are included in the text of articles and in the abstracts of article index records so a keyword search, using terms describing your methodology and the focus of your research, should produce relevant results.

    For example:

    participant observation
    cell phone* or mobile phone* or cellular telephones or mobile communication

    To find discussions of methodological issues, use terms describing your methodology combined with terms like "critique", "review", "assessment", "problem*", "ethic*", "issues", etc.

    If you are not finding adequate results in the literature of communication, consider which other disciplines may have conducted similar studies.  You can use a multidisciplinary database like Web of Science, or Humanities & Social Sciences Index to identify other fields with similar research interests. 

    Google Scholar can be helpful if your research interests can be described in unique terms, that is, that the terminology provides the context. For example, "informed consent" has a specific meaning in a medical or legal context, as well as implications for research ethics.

    The full text indexing provided by Google Scholar lets you search every term in an article, which can be helpful or overwhelming, depending on the nature of your research interests.

    As well as studies that have been published in academic journals, you may find inspiration for research in details about other studies, for example:

    Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)-- a good place to find code books/questionnaires from other studies.

    The Ipsos databases via the SFU Library cover topics that range from pre-election opinions to preference among sandwich types for school-age kids.  For most of their brief reports they also provide the full results on a question-by-question basis. That is, you don't just get the usual press release summarising the data: you also get the exact question asked (good for planning primary research) and you get the breakdown by age/sex/income etc. on that question.

    Ipsos ​Canadian Public Affairs Dataverse
    - Canada-focused.
    - Once you open a PDF report, look at the top of the first PDF page for links to any datatables they may provide. (Very hidden link!)

    Ipsos News Centre
    - Lots of Canadian content, but also US and some world.
    - You get essentially detailed press releases as reports. Look for links to tables/powerpoints, etc. just above the press release/report.

    Finding statistics and demographic information

    Statistical Sources at SFU

    To find additional guides to sources, look under Statistics on the Finding Materials by Format  page