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COM 491: Senior Seminar: Home

COM 491: Senior Seminar

Getting Started

IDENTIFY KEYWORDS
The building block of any library resource search is keywords. Keywords are central ideas or terms within your research question or problem. 

BOOLEAN SEARCH OPERATORS
Once you have your keywords identified (2-3 is a good place to begin), you then need to connect them together in a way the database understands how to search. This is done using the Boolean search operators AND, OR, and NOT. Connecting keywords using these search operators creates a search string. 

  • AND - narrow search, used to combine terms together and focus search results
  • OR - broad search, used to includes results that contain similar or like words, such as synonyms
  • NOT - narrow search by exclusion, used to exclude results containing a particular keyword

SEARCH STRINGS
We call the written version of your keywords with boolean search operators the search string. Writing your search string at the beginning of your research process will help you better approach searching in library resources.

Example search string
JFK OR John F. Kennedy AND speech AND rhetoric

Categories of Research

There are several different ways you will explore research around your student and interpretation of an artifact:

  1. THE ARTIFACT
    This is the actual artifact you are analyzing. Yes, it's a source! This will look different for everyone, but it might be TV shows, a film, documents, social media posts, etc.
  2. RESEARCH ABOUT YOUR CHOSEN METHODOLOGY FOR ANALYSIS
    What tools or methodology are you using the analyze your artifact? Information about your methodology is also a source. Remember, to cite if you use someone else's code to gather information on your artifact.
  3. RESEARCH ABOUT THE ARTIFACT
    This is secondary research (scholarly, peer-reviewed research) from other media critics about your actual artifact. How have other analyzed it? Please note that for some of the artifacts you have chosen, don't be surprised if this information is hard to find! Use Library Databases to search for this kind of information. 
  4. ​RESEARCH ABOUT YOUR BIG PICTURE QUESTION
    This is where the heart of your research will come from for this project. Think about how your artifact answers the big question you are asking. If you are having trouble with research in category #3, then search the library databases in stead for the genre/type of media your artifact is and connect it to a keyword about your big question. Ex. tv comedy AND sexuality.