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Strategic Communication: Scholarly Articles

Using Databases to Find Scholarly Articles

Databases are collections of scholarly articles or other resources. They are usually subject-specific, like Communication & Mass Media Complete, the premier database for all communication research. Alternatively, it has become more popular to search multiple databases at once using a generic EBSCO or Summon search. The advantages of this approach are that it's easy to get started and the number of search results is increased because of the interdisciplinary approach. The downside is if you want to ensure that your results are relevant to your area/discipline of study.  

Usually, you want to start with a database when you are searching for a topic. If you are interested in browsing research to get ideas for topics or to just learn new developments in the field, you should start with the journals tab of this guide. Also, start with journals if you already have a citation for a specific article. 

What's a scholarly article?

Assignments may ask you to find scholarly and peer-reviewed articles. These items:

  • are published in journals 
  • generally focus on scholarly research
  • are written by experts in the field or discipline
  • are critically reviewed by other experts before publication
  • contain cited references to the information sources used

How to Find Scholarly Articles

Library databases contain scholarly or peer-reviewed material and allow you to limit your search to include only these articles in the results.

Use the advanced search option or limiters in a database to find the option to limit to this type of material.

EBSCO Basics

Summon Basics


Searching Multiple EBSCO Databases Simultaneously

Choose Databases Link in EBSCO

By default when you click on EBSCO on the library homepage or this guide you'll be searching hundreds of databases at once. This can clutter your results with irrelevant sources. Alternatively, if you chose Communication and Mass Media Complete, you're limited to just that one database and might be missing out on relevant interdisciplinary research. An option in-between these two is to search a combination of databases. Here's how:

  • In EBSCO, select Choose Databases. This is usually located above the search box. 
  • Click on the option to deselect all databases
  • Select the databases of interest. 
    • Communication and Mass Media Complete should likely be included in all of your searches. Other possible databases of interest depend on your topic. Some commonly combined databases include:
      • Business Source Complete
      • PsycInfo
      • SocIndex