Communication (COMM) 321: Introduction to Communication Theory
Determine Source Type
For your COMM 321 Theory Paper Assignment, you are required to include a minimum of five (5) scholarly (academic) articles that
report new data/findings and utilize or apply your chosen theory.
It can often be tricky to determine if a source is scholarly (academic) or non-academic.
Use the questions below to guide you through the evaluation process and help you identify if your sources are scholarly (academic) or non-academic.
Scholarly (academic) sources, and specifically the ones you will include in your assignment for this course, must report new data/findings; these are called research articles.
A good first step to identify if an article is a research article is to read the Abstract or Summary:
- Does the author mention terms like study, observation, analysis, data, participants, etc.?
- Does the author discuss the methods used in their research?
You can also skim the headings used in the paper:
- Is there a Methods or Methodology section?
- Is there a Discussion or Results section?
Often, 'yes' answers to these questions mean you have identified a research article.
Scholarly (academic) sources are often written for an academic audience, such as students, scholars, researchers, faculty, etc.
In comparison, non-academic sources are written more for the general public.
The intended audience for a source also changes the type of language used by the author.
Scholarly (academic) sources may contain technical or discipline-specific language (such as names of theories, research methods, or jargon) and overall, the language used in the article may be much more formal.
In contrast, non-academic sources, since they are usually written for a general audience, tend to use more informal language and terms.
Many scholarly (academic) sources are also peer-reviewed.
This means that other authors or scholars in the specific field or discipline reviewed or commented on the article prior to its publication.
Peer-reviewed sources can add an extra layer of authority to the discussions and arguments in your theory paper assignment.
Databases as well as the journals' websites can help you determine if scholarly (academic) sources are peer-reviewed.
In comparison, non-academic sources are usually not peer-reviewed prior to publication, but they may be edited or proofread.
Scholarly (academic) sources are usually written by individuals who are associated with a college or university, a research organization, or a government agency.
When identifying scholarly (academic) sources for your paper, take a look at where the author works to get a better idea about:
- Who they are
- Their knowledge about the article's topic.
Search in Library Databases
Most databases require precision in the way you create your searches.
Below are the most common commands used in databases with examples of how to use them.
Use an asterisk * at the end of a word to get the database to search for alternative word endings.
Example : friend* searches for friend, friends, friendly, friendship
Find Scholarly (Academic) Sources
The databases below were chosen because they are relevant to the communication discipline and include scholarly (academic) sources.
When searching in these databases, you can limit your results to 'Peer-Reviewed' sources as well as 'Academic Journals'.
If we don't have full-text access to a source, please use Interlibrary Loan (tutorial link) to request a free copy of the PDF.