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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Communication 111/112

A guide for library resources and research information for students in Communication 111 and 112.

Get Started Finding a Current Topic or Issue

Use the UGL's Subject Research Guides to find an A-Z list of current and popular research topics. The guide for each topic includes links to recommended databases and background information sources, among other things.

CQ Researcher can be a good starting point for exploring topics. Enter your topic idea into the search box. 

Use the infographic below to learn more about other places to find topic ideas.

Where to Find a Current Topic or Issue: INFOGRAPHIC

Where to Find a Topic (Accessible View)

News Sources

Databases & Background Information

Professional Sources

Find Background Information

The library subscribes to the online editions of hundreds of encyclopedias. These provide you articles with reliable background information about your topic, written by experts, and include lists of additional resources.  A class appropriate alternative to Wikipedia!

How to Find Editorials

An editorial is a written piece most often found in newspapers and magazines that typically addresses the opinion or viewpoint of senior editorial staff on a current or controversial issue.

Find Editorials: INFOGRAPHIC

Find Editorials (Accessible View)

Why use editorials?

Editorials can provide you with specific opinions or viewpoints on a given issue. As a rule, editorials focus on current, controversial topics.

Find editorials in databases:
  • Newspaper Databases often allow you to limit your results by "Editorials" as the document type.

  • Academic Search Ultimate allows you to limit results. In the left-hand side of the results list, select “Editorials” as the document type. To view individual editorials, click the HTML or PDF Full Text, or Discover links.

  • Nexis Uni offers a "News" section on the left-hand side of the page. 

  • Undergraduate Library has a great selection of general magazines where you can find editorials. Titles are shelved alphabetically in the periodicals section.

General Search Tips
  • Keep in mind the dates when your topic was of particular interest.

  • You are most likely to get the best results in your search for topics of national, rather than local or regional, interest.

  • Avoid using terms "pro" and "con" in your search, unless the issue frequently uses pro- or con- to identify supporters of the position (i.e. pro-life, pro-choice).

  • Read the abstracts of the editorials, when available, as these will provide you with a brief summary of the writer's viewpoint.

What's the Best Information Source

What's the Best Information Resource (Accessible View)

Information is available via a wide variety of sources. Use the guidelines below to determine if a particular source is likely to meet your information needs.
Source The Information: Best For: Watch for:
Books

​Books include:

  • Historical context
  • Broad overview
  • Information intended for a broad audience

Books are best for:

  • Comprehensive information
  • Background and historical information
  • Bibliographies

When using books, you should watch for and consider that:

  • Dated information
  • Bias or slant
Popular/Special Interest Magazines

Magazines include:

  • Impact of events
  • Interviews and opinions
  • Information intended for a general audience

Magazines are best for:

  • Current Information
  • Shorter, easy to understand articles
  • Photographs and illustrations

When using magazines, you should watch for and consider that:

  • Authors are usually not experts
  • Articles can lack depth
  • Sources are not always cited
  • The publication may have editorial bias
Professional & Trade Magazines

Professional & trade magazines include:

  • Articles and reports
  • Events related to a specific interest group
  • Information intended for professional organizations

Professional and trade magazines are best for:

  • Specialized information for a particular discipline or profession
  • Current information
  • Some bibliographies

When using professional and trade magazines, you should watch for and consider that:

  • May be difficult to recognize
  • Sources are not always cited
Scholarly & Academic Journals

Scholarly & academic journals include:

  • Theoretical information narrow in topic
  • Peer-reviewed articles written by experts
  • Information intended for scholars, researchers, and professionals

Scholarly & academic journals are best for: 

  • Charts and graphs
  • Bibliographies
  • In-depth information

When using scholarly & academic journals, you should watch for and consider that:

  • Terminology may be difficult to understand
  • Dated information
Newspapers

Newspapers include:

  • Statistics, photographs, and editorial coverage
  • Quotes from experts, witnesses, and government officials
  • Information for a general audience

Newspapers are best for:

  • Daily information
  • Localized information
  • Chronology of events

When using newspapers, you should watch for and consider that:

  • Authors usually are not experts
Websites

Websites include:

  • Resources like internet news sites
  • The Who, What, and Where of an event
  • Information for a general audience

Websites are best for:

  • Government information
  • Varied points of view
  • Statistics
  • Company Information

When using websites, you should watch for and consider that:

  • Credibility and accuracy cannot always be assured
  • Bias (dependent on author, publisher, etc.)
  • Sources are not always cited