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

Finding academic sources for your annotated bibliography and essay

What you need to do?

This help page will get find credible academic sources for your annotated bibliography and essay.

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

What is an academic source?

For these assignments you need to find academic (scholarly) sources which includes peer reviewed journal articles. Peer reviewed (refeered) 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 your search plan

Example question for this assignment help:

Apply the Excellence Theory and Systems Theory to your discussion of public relations management within an organisation, movement or industry of your choice.

Breaking your question down:

Identify the task word(s) in your question. "Apply" and "discussion"
Next identify the content words in your question. You can find these by taking the task word and adding the question “What?”

Apply or discuss what?

  • Excellence Theory and Systems Theory
  • Public relations management within an organisation, movement or industry of your choice.
Lastly identify any further parameters for your search. You need to explore this within an organisation, movement or industry of your choice.

To search effectively you need to plan a strategy to give you the best chance to get relevant results. A mind map or table can be useful to plan your approach.

Concept 1:
Public relations management
Concept 2:
Excellence Theory
Concept 3:
Systems Theory

Synonyms or similar concepts:

  • PR management
  • public relations

Synonyms or similar concepts:

  • excellence
  • theory of excellence
  • Grunig's excellence theory

Synonyms or similar concepts:

  • systems
  • 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:

Start your search

The Library Catalogue 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 Tweak my results menu to limit your results. You may want to try limiting by
    •  Peer-reviewed Journal publications 
    •  Publication date e.g. 2015 to 2020

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 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:

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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: 

Select the below for search help:

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. There 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:

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