Communication, Media and Journalism: UO COMM 1076: Public relations theory and practice

Assignment Help

Finding academic sources for your essay

What you need to do?

This page will help you find credible academic sources for your essay.

Remember, always read the assessment details in your course website to know what you need to do.

What is an academic source?

For the assignment you need to find academic (scholarly) sources which includes peer reviewed journal articles. Peer reviewed (refereed) journals are of a high quality as articles are evaluated by experts in the field before being published.

Academic sources can also include other types of information like books. 

We recommend you watch or read the following:

Developing a search plan

Always refer to the task instructions of the assessment in your course website.

Identify and discuss how public relations was used to communicate with target publics and stakeholders. You need to draw on and apply TWO public relations theories of your choosing, to demonstrate how public relations influences behaviour and builds organisational reputation.

You should choose ONE of the suggested examples or nominate a campaign of your choosing in consultation with teaching staff.

Start by breaking down the question:

  • First identify the task words e.g. identifydiscuss and apply.                                                                                                                                     
  • Next identify the content words e.g. what are you applying or discussing? Such as:
    • Excellence Theory
    • Systems Theory
    • Public Relations
  • Lastly identify any parameters e.g. you must look at public relations management in a particular campaign. You might want to add some of the following terms in your search: behaviour change campaigns, organisational reputation.

Once you do this plan a strategy to give you the best chance of finding relevant information.

A mind map or table can be useful to plan your search.

Main concepts

Concept 1

Public relations

Concept 2

Excellence Theory

Concept 3

Systems Theory

Synonyms (similar concepts)

PR management

public relations


theory of excellence

Grunig's excellence theory


system effectiveness


  • Think of synonyms or similar concepts that can be used for each concept. This is important as ideas may be referred to differently within the literature.
  • You can add more concepts as you come across them when searching.

Watch or read the following to learn more:

Have a play

Try creating a mindmap below using your assignment question. 

Tip: When you're finished, go across to slide 2 and select the printer icon to print your mindmap.

Start your search

You can start by searching the Library Collection or Google Scholar

The Library Collection can be useful place to start locating academic sources. 

To do a search:

  • Add your concepts into the search box.
    Tip: use double quotes "...." for phrases. This keeps concepts together.


  • The more concepts you add the narrower your search will become
  • Use the Refine my results menu to limit your results. You may want to try limiting by
    •  Peer-reviewed Journal publications 
    •  Publication date e.g. 2016 to 2021


Google Scholar

Try Google Scholar to find scholarly information. An advantage of Google Scholar is that it provides access to the full text of many UniSA scholarly (academic) articles if you connect via the link above, or from the Library home page.

The Advanced Google Scholar search option gives more flexibility when you search. To access it select the menu (three lines) in the top left hand corner of Google Scholar. This menu will appear once you do an initial search in Google Scholar.

Here is an example:

Searching databases

You should also try searching library databases for relevant academic sources.

Databases are search tools for finding articles, papers, reports and more. Find databases by browsing the database list by subject.

Two useful databases you should become familiar with are:

Here is an example search in Business Source Ultimate.

1. Put each different concept on a new line. Notice these are connected with AND.
  • Using the * symbol will help you find alternative endings to a word. For example: ethic* finds ethics, ethical....


2. You may want to consider putting some synonyms (similar concepts) into your search. These are connected with OR.

  • For example: ethic* OR integrity.


To look for recent scholarly articles you can apply the limits:

  • Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals
  • Publication Date range

Here is an example search in ProQuest Social Science Premium Collection.

1. Select the Advanced Search option (top). Add a different concept (keyword) in each new line using the connector AND.

2. Add any synonyms (similar concepts) to each line using the connector OR. This will broaden your search.

3. Focus your search further by using the options to the left of the results:

  • Scholarly Journals
  • Publication date
If you are not finding what you want:

More help

Need help referencing? Follow the roadmap!

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