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CMN 696.04: Contemplative Media Studies (UNH Durham)

Resources and guidance for Prof. Kevin Healey's course

Approaches to Searching and Finding Articles

Use 2 or 3 significant words or terms from your research topic

Develop synonyms and alternative terms

  • Example: teens or youth or adolescents

 Try a broader concept if a specific term doesn't retrieve enough results

  •  instead of Girls Inc, try programs for adolescent girls

Try a more specific aspect or element if you get too many results with a very broad concept

  • instead of sports, search a specific sport or category such as baseball or water sports

Use the connector "and" to retrieve records with all the keywords you list to focus and narrow your results

  • friendship and health

Use the connector "or" indicate that any one of the terms listed needs to be in the results shown; this usually increases the number of relevant results

  • audience or attendees

Use quotation marks to indicate a phrase

  • "cognitive behavior therapy"

Use an asterisk * to pick up words with the same stem but different endings

  • therap* returns therapy, therapeutic, therapists

Look for new words or terms to search when reviewing your results or reading the full-text article.

Some specialized databases allow you to limit your search in other useful ways age, population group, research methodology, language, etc.

Limiter options vary by database:

  • check the advanced search screen (Example)
  • view the limiters to the left or right on the search results page (Example)

Make connections through ideas and concepts rather than specific words

Look at the reference list at the end of a relevant scholarly article you found. This may lead you to earlier articles related to your topic. Search the UNH Library catalog by the name of the journal to see if we have the article online or in print.

Check "Times CIted" links, if available, in databases such as PsycINFO to identify some newer articles citing the article in the database record. This may lead to related relevant articles.

Searching by the subjects assigned to articles helps

  • identify articles in which the subject is a main focus and not just not just a passing reference
  • pull together results on same concept even if author uses different terms in title or abstract
    • the subject "capital punishment" will retrieve articles using the term "death penalty" as well as those using "capital punishment"
  • when a keyword may have multiple meanings or a more general meaning
    • the subject "flow (conscious state)" will get more relevant results than just searching the keyword "flow"

Look at the subject terms in records for articles that fit your topic closely and search those subjects for more articles

Use the thesaurus available in some databases to see if your keywords are subjects or if alternative terms are used

  • PsycINFO uses "Military Families" as a subject but not "Military Wives"

What else have the author(s) published on this topic? Search their names in the relevant database or look online for their CV (curriculum vitae) or list of publications.

Records in many library databases include fields containing specific pieces of information describing the article, book, chapter, etc. Common fields include:

  • author
  • title (often article or chapter)
  • source (publication such as journal or book title)
  • abstract
  • publisher
  • publication date/year
  • publication type (article, book, dissertation, etc.)
  • subject (sometimes called descriptor)

Using one or more of fields in your search will produce more precise results than keyword searching will. For example, when looking for books by Sigmund Freud rather than books about him, it's more efficient to use the author field.

Look for drop down boxes or menus to select the fields you want to search (Example)

Suggested Database to Start With

The key database to get results from recognized, reputable academic sources in the field of communication is

Other databases that are often useful in research in communication include

View the Databases pages for a more complete list of databases and online reosurces

Getting Articles

Click on the Check for UNH Full Text icon in the database record to see how to get a copy of the article: whether online, in print or from another library.

This 2-minute video provides a brief demonstration.

If the UNH Library doesn't have the article you want, request it through Interlibrary Loan.

Additional Search Options

The search box on the library homepage is a discovery service that allows you to search approximately 60 UNH databases, and some open access (freely available) resources at one time. It also includes books, videos, etc. listed in the UNH library catalog.

This can be useful if you want

  • multidisciplinary coverage specifically
  • initial exploration
  • additional resource by being comprehensive for articles outside of your primary discipline

You can limit results to peer reviewed articles. An advanced search screen with additional options is available:

NOTE: ProQuest databases such as Sociological Abstracts, are not included in the discovery search.

Keyword searching across citations, abstracts and full text of articles (even if the full text isn't available to you).


  • identify relevant articles, especially if your search is pretty specific.
  • useful for exploratory purposes or when you're "covering all the bases"


  • hard to organize or sort in useful ways
  • unable to search by subject or limit by anything other than time

Enhance efficiency by adjusting these Google Scholar settings so that

  • Library Links shows library access links to UNH (so you have quicker access to full text that UNH is subscribing to)
  • Bibliography Manager shows links to import citations into RefWorks (if you're using RefWorks)

Connect to