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Literature Reviews for Media, Communication and Information: 2. Search

A guide to getting started with literature reviews in media, communication and information (CMCI).

2.a. Select Databases to Search

Thinking about the disciplines you brainstormed in step 1.d., select databases to search:


Interdisciplinary Databases

These databases cover multiple disciplines and searches for a wide-range of articles, and sometimes additional information formats. These databases can be a good place to start when you don't know where to start.

As each database offers multiple features, it is recommended you search more than one database.


Disciplinary Databases

These databases focus on specific disciplines. They tend to give fewer results than an interdisciplinary database, but they may offer results more specific to a discipline and have search functions related to that discipline.

2.b. Search and Evaluate the Results

Using the list of keywords you brainstormed in step 1.c., conduct a search with the keywords.

Tips for entering keywords into the search box(es):

  • Use quotations around phrases, such as "social media". This will look for "social media" as a phrase rather than "social" and "media".
  • If using an "Advanced Search" that offers multiple keyword search boxes, connect search terms with "and" and "or". Use "or" between synonyms, and use "and" to connect themes or concepts. For example:
    • "social media" OR tiktok OR instagram
    • AND adolescents OR teenagers OR "young adults"
  • If searching in a disciplinary database, focus your search terms to reflect that discipline.
  • Review the video on Database Searching on the Brainstorm tab for additional tips and examples.

Review and evaluate the results by reflecting on the following questions:

  • Are the articles relevant to your topic?
  • Can you change your search terms to retrieve relevant articles?
  • Are there search facets or limits that help you narrow down your results, such as change the date, select a subject, or select a format (e.g. newspaper, scholarly article, book, etc.)? 

Keep revising your search terms until you find relevant results. 

APRD, Media Studies & Journalism Librarian

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Stacy Gilbert


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Elizabeth Novosel