COMM 2340 Media Law

Planning Your Search

Concept Mapping
Concept MapA concept map is a visual representation of a research topic. Concept maps are a great way to organize and explore the different facets of your topic. Once you decide on a main research topic, make that the center of your concept map. Determine the key concepts and areas that make up your main topic and make these the first branches from your central topic. Additional branches can break your subtopics down into more specific areas, which can help to narrow down your focus if your main topic is too broad to research.




Brainstorming Keywords

Mass Communication wordle

Once you have a topic in mind, develop a list of related terms and ideas to use in your search.


  1. Identify your topic
  2. Identify 2 - 4 key concepts related to your topic
  3. Identify multiple related keywords for each concept

Primary & Secondary Sources

Primary Sources


Primary sources are ...

  • Original first-hand documents
  • Not previously published, interpreted or translated


Some examples:

  • Original research
  • Government documents
  • Historical records
  • Works of art and literature
  • Correspondence, diaries and personal papers
  • Autobiographies
  • Interview transcripts
  • Photographs


Secondary Sources


Secondary sources are ...

  • Interprets and analyzes a primary source
  • Based on a primary source


Some examples:

  • Literature reviews
  • Textbooks and encyclopedias
  • Book reviews
  • Editorials


From Cornell College's "A Guide to Evaluating Resources"

Combining Search Terms

Boolean Operators


AND narrows down your results because it only finds items that include both search terms as a keyword.

And Venn Diagram

OR expands your results because it finds items that include either one or both search terms as a keyword.

Or Venn Diagram

NOT makes your results more specific by excluding words that aren't relevant to your search.

Not Venn Diagram