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Communication Research

Fant Library's guide to resources for research in communication. Here you'll find access to books in print or online, databases for scholarly articles and hard data, and access to library help online or in person.

How To Search a Database


A library database is an electronic collection of information. They can contain journals, magazine, and newspaper articles as well as citations, abstracts, and books. 

Fant Memorial Library subscribes to over 100 databases. Some of these databases are interdisciplinary and cover different subjects while others are subject-specific and only include information on a certain topic.

All of our databases can be accessed both on and off campus by MUW students.

While the internet can be good for quickly searching for some information, databases are best for academic research. 

  Internet Database
Examples Google, Wikipedia Academic Search Complete, JSTOR, OVID, ScienceDirect
Authority/Credentials Anyone can publish and anyone does. Difficult to verify credentials. Results are not always scholarly. Authority/credentials are guaranteed. Most articles are scholarly and peer-reviewed.
Results Thousands. Duplicates are not filtered out. Many are not scholarly. Hundreds or fewer. Duplicates are filtered out. You can limit to full text.
Relevance Lots of “noise” because there are no subject headings assigned. Information can be biased, untrue, or irrelevant. Databases focus on specific subjects. Offer fewer but more relevant results. Results are from scholarly publishers and authors.
Limiters Can limit by document type (pdf, doc) and source (gov, org, com) Can limit by date, document type, language, format, peer reviewed status, full text availability, and more.
Stability of information Information from the Internet is unstable. It can disappear at any time. Researchers will often be asked to pay a fee to access journal articles. (Note: These articles are available to you via the Library as part of your tuition.) Databases are a collection of articles that have appeared in journals. This makes their status more stable than the Internet. The information is paid for by subscription to be offered as part of a student’s tuition.

Thanks and acknowledgement to Benedictine University's General Library Research Guide which this box is based on.

Here are some helpful search tips to get your database search started:

1. Be Creative

Try using synonyms or different phrases when searching to get slightly different results.

2. Search Multiple Databases

Different databases may have different results based on their subscriptions and algorithms, so try a few before moving on.

3. Don't be afraid of non-full text results

If the database does not have the full article, don't worry! You can put in an InterLibrary Loan request and we will get it for you.

4. Combine and Truncate Search Terms

Using the word AND between words will combine the search terms in database so that only results with both the word before and after AND will be included. Using an asterisk will allow you to search for words that have different endings. For example, searching relat* will pull results for relate, relationship, relates, related, and any other word that begins with relat.

5. Ask for Help

Librarians are here to help. Always feel free to ask questions about your research. We cna be reached via text, phone, email, chat, and in-person.

Boolean, Truncation, Phrase Searching & Wildcards

The Boolean search technique allows you to combine keywords with the operators 'AND', 'OR' and 'NOT'. They connect your search keywords/concepts together to either narrow or broaden your search results when searching databases. Using these operators, you are able to refine your results and save time.

AND: Narrows your search, combines different concepts, and retrieves results which contain both/all keywords.
OR: Broadens your search, combines similar concepts (synonyms), and retrieves results which contain either or both/all keywords.
NOT: Narrows your search, excludes unwanted terms from your search.

Provided by The University of Notre Dame, Australia

The truncation search technique allows you to search databases for variations and plurals of a word all at once. Using truncation will help you search faster because you do not have to manually type multiple endings of a word. The symbol for truncation is usually an asterisk (*), placed at the end of the root word, where the spelling of the word could change. 
Note: Be careful where you place the *.
The keyword truncation 'commu*' will search commune, commute, communicate, community etc. which are unrelated words. 
The keyword truncation 'touris*' will search tourist, tourists, tourism etc. but not tour or tours.


educat* = educate, education, educated, educational 
adoles* = adolescent, adolescents, adolescence
contamina* = contamination, contaminants, contaminated, contaminate, contaminates

Phrase search technique allows you to search databases for an exact phrase. Using quotation marks (" ") around your search term will help you do a more precise search as it will only return results that contain the exact words in the same order.
Note: Only use phrase searching on widely accepted phrases. Be careful placing too many words in quotations, the database might not find any results. 


"social media"
"climate change"

"job satisfaction"

Wildcard search technique allows you to search databases for alternate spellings and variations of a word by replacing a letter with question mark (?). It is useful for retrieving results with both US and UK spelling variations of a word. Using wildcard will make your search quicker because you do not have to manually type different spellings of a word.  
Note: Wildcard symbols (? #, !) can vary by databases. Please check individual database help pages.

wom?n = woman, women

anal?se = analyse, analyze

Colo?r = color or colour

Subject Databases

The following databases contain communication related articles, data, and resources.