Before you start searching for sources, you should identify and define your information need. This way you wil know what you're looking for and when you've found it. It will also help you know where to start your search.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What information do you need? Define your problem or interpret your assignment.
What information do you already have on the subject? What facts or background information do you already know?
Do you want general or specific information about the subject?
How much information do you want? A single fact? A paragraph? A few pages? An entire book?
Do you need primary or secondary sources, or a combination of both?
Are you required to have peer-reviewed journal articles?
What types of information do you want?
statistics or data
case studies or specific examples
name of experts
What information sources (databases, library catalogs, encyclopedias, the internet) will help you find the information you need?
A comprehensive resource for communication research. Communication Source was developed from a merger of Communication and Mass Media Complete and Communication Abstracts (formerly published by Sage), and includes many unique sources not previously available in other databases. Communication Source offers abstracts and indexing as well as full-text content from publications worldwide pertaining to Communication, Linguistics, Rhetoric and Discourse, Speech-Language Pathology, Media Studies and other fields relevant to the discipline.
Political Science Complete is an extensive full-text collection and index to political science literature. It includes online full-text for 500+ academic journals in political science and related fields. It also provides cover to cover indexing for a total of 1,000 political science journals and selective coverage for an additional 1,000 journals in related fields. It also includes a collection of some 340 reference and other political science e-books. In this way, Political Science Complete forms the perfect in-depth complement to the broader coverage found in our current PAIS database.
Indexes 2.5+ million items in political science, public policy, and international relations, which were produced from 1915 to the present. Contains journal articles, books, U.S. and foreign government documents, websites, research and think tank reports, and international agency publications. The great breadth of this database is perfectly complemented by the in-depth journal coverage of Political Science Complete.
Scholarly articles are complex pieces of writing. They are written by scholars, for scholars, and the authors assume that readers will have extensive background knowledge of the field. As a student, you will need to work harder than a professional in the field to fully understand a scholarly article. This is not a bad thing. You just aren't as familiar with this research as a professional because you're still in college.
Follow these steps for reading success. You should read the article 3 times. By "read," I mostly mean SKIM looking for specific pieces of information.
READING 1: In your first reading, do not read the article from start to finish.
Read the title, abstract, and introduction.
Put a question mark (?) next to any word or concept you do not understand. Look them up so that you know what they mean (consult your textbook, an encyclopedia, the web).
Write down 1-2 sentences that summarize the article in your own words. This should answer the question: What is this article about?
READING 2: Now that you're oriented to the article and know the basics of the author's study, your second reading will allow you to pay attention to important details you missed the first time around.
Read the beginning and end of sub-sections (these are usually in Bold or Italics). Pay particular attention to topic sentences (authors make important points in the first sentences of their paragraphs).
Answer 3 questions:
1. What is the purpose of the article?
2. What are the author's main arguments (Look in the Introduction, or toward the end of the Literature Review. You might also find this near a Hypothesis or Research Question. Sometimes you have to distil the argument from a paragraph).
3. What new contribution does this article make to the field? (Essentially... why does this study matter? You may find this in the Literature Review)
READING 3: This is your final pass - review sections that still confuse you.
Read the Discussion section.
Take notes on the evidence and findings. (This will be in the Discussion or Conclusion. You may consult the Results section.)
Answer 2 questions:
1. What did the author find?
2. Did the author succeed in making their argument?