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What you need to do

This assignment help will get you started with finding information for your Communication Research Methods assignments.

It's important to understand your assessment before you start searching. Reading through the details in your Course Outline and LearnOnline site will help you:

  • Understand what you need to do
  • Know what types of resources you need 
  • Choose where to search

Understand research methods

Your critique requires you to identify the various research methods used in the report. If you need help understanding different research methods, see the database:

Tip: You may want to explore the Research Methods Map. Find it by scrolling down once you are in the database.

SAGE Research Methods Map

You can search for a specific research method in the Methods Map search bar.

SAGE Research Methods search bar

SAGE Research Methods search bar drop down menu

Peer reviewed journals

What is a peer reviewed journal?

Journals are publications similar to magazines. They have issues published regularly (e.g. monthly) and focus on a particular subject. Articles in academic journals should be well researched, include references and be written by experts in that area.

You can find communication journals in the Library collection using the tool BrowZine. Open BrowZine by selecting:

  • Journals just under the search bar on the Library homepage
  • Then browse by Social Science and Behavioral Science and Communication and Journalism

Remember: The articles for your assignment need to come from a journal that is in the communication discipline, not articles where communication approaches have been applied in another field (e.g. psychology).

Plan your search

Identity keywords

Taking time to plan your search will save you time and help you find information more efficiently.

  1.  Identify the main concepts/keywords in your research question
  2.  Think of any relevant synonyms (similar concepts) for each concept
  3.  Connect your concepts together using boolean (AND and OR) to form a search

This assignment question has many different concepts that you need to research. You need to conduct separate searches for each of these concepts.

For example research methodology, communication practice and media industries are concepts taken from your assignment details.

Try creating a table similar to the one below to brainstorm and keep track of alternative keywords and spellings for the key concepts in your assignment question.

Concept 1

research methodology

Concept 2

communication practice

Concept 3

media industries

qualitative research


focus groups

participant observation

communication theory

communication research

public relations communication

PR communication

information media

social media

media landscape

Tip: As you search, you may come across more concepts or synonyms you can incorporate. Don't be afraid to change or modify your search as you go.

Connect your keywords

Once you have identified your keywords and found alternative keywords, you need to connect these to put your search together.

Boolean What it does      Example
  • Connects different concepts 
  • Finds fewer and more targeted results
"qualitative research" AND "communication theory"
AND "media industries"
  • Connects alternative keywords for the same concept        
  • Broadens your search and finds more results
  • Includes results that use different terminology
"qualitative research" OR interview* OR "focus group"

Remember to use "quotation marks" to keep phrases together and brackets () to keep alternative keywords together. Have a look at the example below:

("qualitative research" OR interview* OR "focus group" OR "participant observation") AND "communication theory" AND ("media industries" OR "media industry")

Begin your search

Using your search strategy

Take a look at the following search examples to get you started:

interview* AND ("communication theory" OR "communication research methods") AND "media industries"

The Library Collection is a good place to start your search for scholarly material. You can use it to find eBooks, journal articles, reports, videos and more.

Select the image below to view the full example search.

Link to example search results in the Library Collection

interview* AND ("communication theory" OR "communication research methods" AND ("media industry" OR media)

Try using Refine my results to limit your search to

  • Peer-reviewed journals
  • Books
  • Publication date

Tip: Use the Book chapter refinement to find scholarly edited books.

Want to know more?

Watch this short video about using the Library Collection (1:48)

Databases are online collections of resources including articles, papers, book chapters and reports. Databases have advanced search options, helping to focus your search and find more relevant, scholarly references quickly.

SAGE Research Methods example

Select the image below to view the full search.

Link to example search in SAGE Research Methods database


AND "communication theory" OR "communication research methods"

AND "media industries"

Key communication and media databases

Google Scholar example

Select the image below to view the full search.

Link to example search in Google Scholar

interview* AND (communication theory" OR "communication research methods" AND "media industries"

Find grey literature

What is grey literature?

Grey literature has been defined as:

"Information produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing, i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body."  

— ICGL Luxembourg definition, 1997-expanded in New York, 2004

Grey literature can be hard to find or irretrievable for a number of reasons because it is:

  • Not widely disseminated - e.g. conference proceedings, institutional working papers, theses
  • Often not archived 
  • Available only in obsolete formats
  • It is part of the Invisible web

Quality may also be an issue because it is often not peer reviewed or edited. It is important to carefully evaluate your grey literature sources for suitability before using them in your assignment.

Watch the following video on how to find grey literature.

For further information take a look at the Grey Literature guide:

Evaluate what you have found

Evaluate your sources?

Once you've found some sources to use in your assignments, it's important to evaluate them for accuracy, credibility and relevance to your needs.

When evaluating information you can use the CRAAP test:

Currency How current does the information need to be? Do you need to use information published in the last five years or are older, seminal works fine to use?
Relevance Does the information found answer your question? Do you understand the content and is it at the right level for your purpose?
Authority What are the author's qualifications? Are they linked to a particular organisation such as a university, research institute or government department?
Accuracy Is evidence given for the research undertaken? Can you verify the information presented by using other sources? Is there a bibliography or reference list given?
Purpose Is it trying to communicate research, persuade you or sell you something? Is it expressing an opinion, or is it balanced and objective?

The following resources offer more information and tips on undertaking this key step:.

Study support

Need advice on writing or presenting? Not sure how to organise your ideas? The Study help: online resources hub has tools to help you with your assignments and succeed at university!

Want someone to check over a draft of your assignment? Studiosity offers an online classroom where you can chat with a learning adviser. The associated "Check Mate" service helps with English, writing and referencing.

  • Referencing Roadmap (Harvard)
    Help with the Harvard UniSA referencing style. Find in text-citations and reference examples, from different sources such as articles, books & chapters, websites, and more.
  • Referencing hub
    Information around what is referencing, paraphrasing, referencing rules, referencing styles and Academic Integrity. Also includes a link to the Harvard Referencing Guide UniSA (pdf).
  • Referencing forum
    Discuss referencing, exchange advice and post questions and answers about referencing (facilitated by Student Engagement Unit).
  • EndNote
    What do you do with all those references you have found? Use a bibliographic management software to store, organise and cite your references. The Library supports the bibliographic management tool, EndNote. There are also many free systems available.

Ask the library

Link to Ask the Library on the Library Homepage

​Ask the Library for further help via live chat, phone, email, or access our suite of self-help resources.