North Hall Library


COM 4440 - Comm Law

Research Process

6 Steps in the Research Process

  1. Choose Topic
    • Break your topic into keywords & consider how to combine those words
  2. Build background knowledge
    • Textbook, Encyclopedia, Gale Virtual Reference Library
  3. Find Books
  4. Find Articles
  5. Evaluate your sources
  6. Cite your sources

1. Choosing Search Terms

Choosing Search Terms to use in the catalog or databases:

Break your topic into keywords

Do your keywords match the ones the database or catalog is using?  Try to think of other ways to express the same concept, for example:  Cameras in the courtroom, televising trials, or broadcasting court proceedings.  Try looking at the subject headings or descriptors.  If there is a thesaurus, use it to help you identify subject terms for that database.  Be aware that different databases may use different terminology.

Connect your keywords in one of these ways:   

Exact phrase - " "   Example:  "Cameras in the courtroom"

And - All the words  Example:  Broadcasting and court

Or - Any of the words  Example:  Court or Trial

Not -  Example:  Broadcasting not radio

2. Background - Reference Books/Online

3. Find Books

Many in KF 2750, but also other areas

4. Find Articles

5. Evaluate sources

Who wrote this? What are their credentials and affiliations?

What is the author's purpose?  Who is the intended audience?

Is there documentation, a bibliography?

When was this written?

Is the publisher reputable?

Is it relevant to my topic?

6. Cite your sources

Some of the databases will tell you how to cite the sources you have found, but they are not always correct.  Use one of these resources to make sure you get it right!


Ask at the Library Service Desk for the complete print guides for APA, MLA, or other citation styles.

Internet Legal Resources