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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Communication 101

Library information and resources for CMN 101 classes.

Determine if a Source is Published

Step 1: Locate the Publication Information

Printed sources will have certain types of publication information that electronic sources may not. Look for the following to help determine if your source has a print equivalent:

  1. Source
  2. Volume and/or issue number
  3. Page numbers
  4. Publication date
  5. Author information

Step 2: Use Library Resources to Find Publication

Search for an article in a library database, or use the other resources listed to locate your publication.

Library Databases

Using databases such as Academic Search Ultimate or Access World News will ensure that any source you find is published, meaning it has a print equivalent.


Access information about newspapers, magazines, and journals published throughout the world, covering all subjects.

  1. Enter your journal or newspaper title (not the article title) in the search box.
  2. Look to see if your source lists a publisher. This can be either a database or the name of the company.
  3. Verify that the status is “active.” If yours does not have an active status, the newspaper or journal may no longer be publishing.
  4. Check the serial type. You’ll want something that is a magazine, newspaper, or journal.

Note: Ulrich’s will tell you if a source is in print, but not if your specific article is in print. To verify this, search library databases for the specific article. You can start with the databases mentioned above.

University of Illinois Library Newspaper Database

Often you will find newspaper articles on the internet through credible sources such as the New York Times. Just because you find it on a newspaper’s website does not mean that every article has a print version. Use this database for electronic access to print newspapers from the United States, ranging from local to national.

  1. Enter your newspaper title (not the article title) in the search box.
  2. You can specify the year to make sure you are finding recent issues.
  3. You will see the name of the newspaper, available formats, place of publication, and available dates.
  4. Click on the format link next to date range that best fits your needs. “Online” means U of I students have on- and off-campus access.
  5. Choose a database. Make sure to check the date range.
  6. Once in the database, you can search for your specific article.

Note: Some newspapers and magazines delay online access for anywhere between one day and several weeks. If you’re looking for something very recent, you may need to find the print copies which are available at the Undergraduate Library and other libraries on campus.

Detect Bias

Detect Bias

Worried your source is too subjective? Ask it a few questions!

What is the source trying to do?

  • All writing has a purpose. Is your source trying to inform readers or provoke certain emotions?
  • One way to know is by looking at the headlines. They should tell you something important about their attached stories, not just bait your curiosity.

How does is sound?

  • Does it use judgment words? Lines like "the bleeding-heart liberal media" or "gun-crazy Republicans" betray an author's bias. 
  • Is the language otherwise loaded to create a negative impression of the issue. "Death tax" feels different than "Estate tax," for example. 

What is the context? 

  • Is your source giving the whole picture?
  • Does it provide a history of its issue and an overview of its most affected parties, or does it offer only enough details to support one interpretation?

What are the sources?

  • Does your source provide any of its own sources? If so, do they all point to one conclusion?
  • There is more than one side to any issue—an unbiased source will try to reflect that.

Is it real?

  • "Fake" news has become more prevalent in the past few years. Evaluate your sources to make sure it comes from a reputable publisher. 

Bias is an inevitable part of all writing but it is important to be aware of how it might color the information a writer is presenting. In general, it is best for academic writing to avoid explicit bias. 

However, there is a place for consideration of consciously subjective writing. Editorials, blogs, and other less-scholarly sources can be useful for getting a sense of how regular people feel about an issue. 

There are organizations devoted to exposing bias in media. For example, FAIR is a "national media watch group...offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986." Click here to read more tips from FAIR on detecting bias.

Understand the Information Cycle: VIDEO

The Information Cycle

What is the Information Cycle?

The Information Cycle is the progression of media coverage of a particular newsworthy event. Understanding the information cycle will help you better know what information is available on your topic and better evaluate information sources covering that topic. 

After an event, information about that event becomes available in a pattern similar to this: 

THE DAY OF: Television, Social Media, and the Web (ex: CNN, TikTok, blogs)

THE WEEK OF: Newspapers (ex. New York Times, Chicago Tribune)

THE WEEK AFTER: Magazines (ex. Time, National Geographic)

MONTHS AFTER: Academic/Scholarly Journals (ex. The American Political Science Review, Journal of American Medical Association)

A YEAR AFTER & LATER: Books, Government Publications, and Reference Collections (Popular Titles, encyclopedias, government reports)