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Com 101 Library Information and Tutorials

Com 101 Library Activity Part 2

This is how you get to the second (and last) part of your graded library activity:

After you have gone over the information on this page about finding scholarly journal articles in Search It, JSTOR, and Communication and Mass Media Complete, you can go to Com 101 Library Activity Part 2, and complete the activity. 

Note: Once you start the activity, you need to complete it (this is just because the technology doesn't allow you to save your work and come back to it), so make sure you have time before beginning. The activity should take about 20 minutes to complete, but can take more or less time depending on your research topic.

Important Note: The survey software (Qualtrics) records your responses as well as how long you spend on the activity, and information about the date and time your do the activity. A report of your entries in the activity will be sent to your instructor. 

Com 101 Library Activity Part 2:

Finding Journal Articles in Search It

Scholarly journal articles present focused and often very current research on a variety of topics. There are millions of these articles out there, but finding those that pertain to your specific research topic and interests can be challenging. Below are some good starting points. If you have questions about finding journal articles, please contact your librarian, Erica Nicol.

Search It (again). Remember when we looked in Search It for books? You can also do a keyword search in Search It from the libraries homepage – – and then narrow your search to either articles or peer-reviewed articles using the options on the left menu of the Search It results screen. (Notice that I added a keyword to the search I did earlier for books so that instead of radio journalism the search is now radio journalism changes. This is because articles are much more focused in their scope than books, and also because there are many more articles than books to sort through. Adding another keyword is a good way to narrow your search to sources closer to your topic.)

Results for the search "National Public Radio" AND culture


Clicking on that Peer-reviewed Journals link on the left will limit your search to results from peer-reviewed (scholarly) journals.

Search It results for "National Public Radio" AND culture, limited to peer-reviewed articles

Be careful, however, as many peer-reviewed journals also contain articles that aren’t peer-reviewed – things like editorials, book reviews, and guest columns. These might be interesting and useful, but even if they are found in a journal that uses peer-review, they do not count as peer-reviewed sources.‚Äč


Peer-Reviewed Articles

So, how do you tell if an article is scholarly (peer-reviewed)? There are several resources that go into depth on how to do this, including this flow chart handout and the CRAAP Test. However, when looking at a list of search results in a database, it's helpful to know that scholarly articles tend to share some common traits:

  • They are long – usually 20-40 pages though this can vary depending on your area of research.
  • They have a long works cited list or bibliography – usually at least a page long, but often longer. Being aware of and citing other relevant research on your topic is a large part of scholarly research and writing and a scholarly article’s bibliography will reflect this.
  • They use specialized vocabulary and will probably take longer to read and understand than articles from newspapers, popular magazines, or blog posts.
  • If there are illustrations, they tend to be charts or graphs. If you see large color photos, there’s a good chance the article isn’t scholarly, though this can vary depending on the research area.

If you aren’t sure whether an article is scholarly, it's a good idea to check with your instructor or a librarian.

Finding Journal Articles in JSTOR

JSTOR  is another good resource for finding scholarly journal articles. This database includes large collections of scholarly journal articles that are available full-text and online, and includes older journal articles as well those that are more current. JSTOr can be particularly useful when looking for scholarly sources on communiction history.

One warning about JSTOR: it often will not include the most current (last 3-5 years’ worth) of journal articles, so if you are researching a current event or need the most recent research on your topic, it’s good to search other databases in addition to JSTOR.


To get to JSTOR (and the other databases provided by the libraries), start at the Libraries’ website:

screenshot of Libraries' home page highlighting the link to databases

On the home page, you will see a button called Databases. Clicking the button opens a page where you can browse databases or search by database title. From this page, you can type JSTOR to get to a link to the JSTOR database. If you are outside of the library buildings, you may have to log in with your WSU network ID and password in order to access the databases.


Once in JSTOR, you can use your keywords to search much as you did in Search It. Here are some sample results from a JSTOR search. You can also click on the article title links to see the first page of an article and get an idea of whether or not is will be useful to your research. Here’s a screenshot of some JSTOR results (notice that the second article here is from 1941):

JSTOR search results for the words radio AND culture AND rural communities

One nice feature of JSTOR is that once you find an article you’d like to use, you can very easily download a PDF of that article by clicking on the Download PDF button.

Helpful Links for Com 101 Library Research Using Journal Articles

Finding Journal Articles in CMMC

Another good database for Communication and Media topics is called Communication and Mass Media Complete (CMMC). CMMC has very current coverage of scholarship in communication studies and related fields, and while not all of the article results you see here will have direct links to PDFs, several of the articles will be available online. To get to CMMC, follow similar steps as you did to access JSTOR:

  • Start at the libraries homepage –
  • Click on the Find Journal Articles link, which will open a new page
  • Click on the Databases A-Z link to go to a page where you can look for databases by name
  • Type Communication and Mass Media in the search box to get to a link to the CMMC database.

Once in CMMC, you can search by entering keywords for your topic. CMMC contains significant coverage of non-scholarly sources (magazines, trade publications, reviews, etc.), but you can always check the box next to Scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals in the left-hand menu if you want to limit your search to scholarly articles.

If you find an article in CMMC (or in any of the databases provided by the WSU Libraries) without a link to the full text, look for the button that says Find It @ WSU and click on it.

CMMC search on ("National Public Radio" OR NPR) AND objectivity


The Find It button will take you to a webpage that acts as a bridge between the article information you have found and the full-text article. You may need to log in with your Zzusis ID and password to see the Access Options for the full-text article. Once you see the Access Options, clicking on one of the linked options will take you to the full text of the article. Here’s what that “bridge” page looks like:

Record of article with link to the full text


The three options we looked at for finding journal articles are only the tip of the iceberg. The libraries offer access to hundreds of databases, so if the database you try doesn’t work for you, we may have one that would be a better choice for your topic. If you have difficulty finding good articles for your research, please contact your librarian, Erica Nicol, at or 509-335-8614 to request help.

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us