MEDIAST 130: Mass Communications Research and Methods

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Set up your computer for off campus access to library databases.

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Each library has its own hours.  Click on the calendar for each library to view a month at a time.

For Media Studies

Library web page for Media Studies

To find online resources, start with the Library home > Electronic Resources > Browse:  By subject > Media Studies > Encyclopedias (or dictionaries, or...)

Media Resource Center

lists of DVDs/videos by subject; see especial Ethnic Studies and Immigration

View lists of documentaries and feature films by topic; Film Studies resources, bibliographies, and more.

This guide has been archived

Please note: this course guide was created during a previous semester, and is no longer being actively maintained. For a list of current course guides, please see


Developing appropriate keywords/search terms is an essential part of research.  First, break your topic into components.  Develop a list of synonyms and alternative terminology for each component.  Think about broader and narrower concepts and word variants.  What words can you exclude?

Topic: Image of African American Women in Advertising

Image(s) African American(s) Women Advertising/Advertisement(s)
Stereotyp* Black(s) Gender media
Depiction(s) minority/minorities    

Remember to be creative with your terminology!  More examples:

people of color and environmental activism*
environmental justice
environmental justice and hazardous waste*
environmental equity
environmental discrimination
environmental racism
environmental injustice


Article Databases

Search an article database to find citations (title, author, title of journal, date, page numbers) for articles on a particular topic.  The Library gives you access to over 200 article databases covering different disciplines.

1.  Think about which academic disciplines might write about your topic.  Examples:  literature, film, anthropology, history...

2.  Find the appropriate article database by subject (academic discipline or department).  Look for "Recommended" databases.

Library home > Articles > Article Databases by Subject

Brainstorming Academic Disciplines


Topic:  Image of African American women in advertising

potentially relevant disciplines:

African American Studies
Gender and Women's Studies
Ethnic Studies
Media Studies


Searching CSA Illumina Social Sciences

Note:  remember, some very current topics won't retrieve any academic journal articles yet.  You'll have to search for broader, related topics for articles that can provide you with the scholarly background for your paper, and use popular articles for the current information.  Check with your instructor.

Sample searches in CSA Illumina Social Science databases:

Library home > Articles > Article Databases by Subject > Media Studies > Communication Abstracts:  click on the CSA Illumina Social Sciences link to search multiple social science databases

1.  Example of a search using multiple keywords, phrase searching, truncation,etc.

     Topic: media coverage of black athletes, especially in criminal cases (ex:  Michael Vick, Kobe Bryant)

     crim*             (keywords)
     media            (keywords)
     black athlet* (keywords)

keywords = searches most important parts of the record
two or more words together in one box = phrase (words found together, in that order)
select "English only" checkbox if desired

2.  to retrieve more items:  add another term; split up a phrase; add alternative terms

click on add row

     media                                      (keywords)
     crim*                                       (keywords)
     black*  or african american*   (keywords)
     athlet*                                      (keywords)

 3.  other strategies for retrieving more:  leave out terms; use broader terms

     basketball player*                    (keywords)
     film*    or    movie*                   (keywords)


     basketball                               (keywords)
     film*       or    movie*               (keywords)

another example:

     marriage*                      (keywords)
     situation comed*          (keywords)


     marriage*   or    family   or   families   (keywords)
     situation comed*    or    television         (keywords)
     portrayal*  or depict*  or representation*       (keywords)

4.  use official subject terms (aka subject headings, descriptors, etc.)

     food                                           (keywords)
     blog*   or media   or advertis*    (keywords)


     food                                                  (descriptor)
     advertis*    or media    or television   (descriptor)

Watch a 3 minute movie:  accessing CSA Illumina Social Sciences, searching, revising a search, using descriptors, saving items to a list, e-mailing the list!


Searching Academic Search Complete

Academic Search Complete is an interdisciplinary database; watch the movie

     distribution        (keywords)
     film*   or   movie*    (keywords)
     internet or online     (keywords)

type or if you need it between two terms

click on academic journals in the left column to limit to peer-reviewed journals

note official subject headings in the left column; click on motion pictures distribution


Search Results

Where is the actual article?

The full text of some articles is available online via the Library's article databases. For other articles you'll need to find the physical library location and call number of the journal.

The easiest way to do this is to use the UC e-links feature which is available in many (not all) databases.

When you find an item you're interested in, click on the UC e-links icon, which will lead to links to full text if available, or else a link to the Next Generation MELVYL catalog.  Click on the Next Generation MELVYL link to search for the library location of the journal.

Watch the UC e-links movie!  (4 minutes).  For assistance in reading a Next Generation MELVYL record for a journal title, go here  or ask for assistance.

Google Research Tools

Google Scholar is an easy way to do interdisciplinary research, and with some settings changes can become even more useful.  You may need a Google account to use some of these features.

Open Scholar.  Click on scholar preferences [upper right corner]. Under Library Links, enter the word Berkeley.  Choose  UC Berkeley eLinks and Open WorldCat - Library Search and Save your preferences.  UC e-links will now appear in Google Scholar search results.

Do your search in Google Scholar. Look in the green toolbar for the envelope icon, and click it.  New items will be sent to your email account as they are found by Google.

Do a Google Scholar search. Click on the "Cited by" link under a citation and select the "Search within articles citing..." checkbox.

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Getting Help

Other ways to get help:  in person, by e-mail, using specialized chat services

And of course:  e-mail Corliss or email Theresa (Bancroft Library)

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