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Communication Studies (CMST): Research Tips


This page is designed to guide you through researching Communication Studies topics. Take some time to read the text in each box and click on the links to library resources.

Please ask a librarian if you need help!

Narrow down your topic

General advice for research in Communication Studies

Before you begin searching for books or journal articles on your topic, you might need to narrow your topic by considering these questions:

  1. What is the focus of my research topic (communication at work, in school, in a group, one-on-one)?
  2.  What is the kind of communication I am searching for (spoken, nonverbal, written)?
  3.  What do I want to focus on within this subject? (persuasion, conflict resolution, support, information-gathering)?
  4. What might be some other factors to keep in mind? (race, age, gender, culture)?

Why is it important to narrow my topic?

If you can answer the above questions, then you will have the keyword, concepts, or terms which you will use to search the databases.  Because there are hundreds of thousands of articles on nearly every topic, you need to be specific in your searches so that you are not bombarded with too many results.

You can use the "Search Strategy Builder" tool down the page to create a search phrase that you can copy and paste into library databases!

Get Background Info from Online Reference Books

online access for encylopedias

The Campus Library has many Communication Studies encylopedias available online. The links below will take you to their catalog records. From there, click on "Online Access" and then the link that appears next to "Content Available," as shown in the image to the right.

Check out Books about Communication Studies topics

Click on the links below to generate lists of Campus Library books about Communication Studies topics.

Nonverbal Advantage book coverCommunication and Community book cover

Browse Books on the Shelf

The Campus Library arranges books by Library of Congress (LC) call numbers. The major sections for books about Communication Studies are listed below. You can find these call numbers in the main stacks on the 3rd floor.

HD30.3   Communication in Management and Industry
HD42 Conflict Management
HD58.7-HD58.95   Organizational behavior
P87-P96 Communication, Mass Media
P95-P95.6 Oral Communication
P301-P301.5 Rhetoric in Persuasion, Debate
P302-302.87 Discourse Analysis
PN4129 Public Speaking

Search Strategy Builder


The Search Strategy Builder is a tool designed to teach you how to create a search string using Boolean logic. While it is not a database and is not designed to input a search, you should be able to cut and paste the results into most databases’ search boxes.

Concept 1 AND Concept 2 AND Concept 3
Name your concepts here
Search terms Search terms Search terms
List alternate terms for each concept.

These can be synonyms, or they can be specific examples of the concept.

Use single words or short phrases













Now copy and paste the above Search Strategy into a database search box.

The Search Strategy Builder was developed by the University of Arizona Libraries and is used under a Creative Commons License.

Search Communication Journals

Use the link below to search thousands of Communication journals at once.

Check for full text W button

What should you do if you find an interesting article in a database but no link to the full text? Click on the purple "Check for full text" button – this button will attempt to connect you to the full text article if it is owned by the UW. 

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