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COMM 3700: Empirical Research Methods (Minniear)

Dr. Mack Minniear, Spring 2024

Introduction and Literature Review

Use a research article's introduction and literature review to find new search terms and more useful articles.

The introduction and literature review:

  • provide context for the article
  • define concepts used, usually from broader to narrower (new search terms!)
  • synthesize existing related research
  • explain how the present study builds on existing literature to fill a gap

...all with citations to articles you can use. Follow the in text citation to the references page and search using the article title in Multi-Search.

See this process in action in the introduction to this sample article:

Pace, K., Silk, K., Nazione, S., Fournier, L., & Collins-Eaglin, J. (2018). Promoting mental health help-seeking behavior among first-year college studentsHealth Communication, 33(2), 102–110.

Research Methods

Look at articles' research methods to find different approaches to studying your research topic. This section will discuss recruitment of participants, research methods and measures used.

The research methods section is especially useful for identifying potential measures for your study.

(Ideally, the citations for the measurements lead you to an article or chapter that contains the survey instrument itself. If not, contact me!)

See how Hall and MacNallie (2016) conducted their study on family communication patterns, from recruiting participants to measures used. 

Dorrance Hall, E., & McNallie, J. (2016). The mediating role of sibling maintenance behavior expectations and perceptions in the relationship between family communication patterns and relationship satisfactionJournal of Family Communication, 16(4), 386–402.

Citation Chaining

Citation chaining

Using an article's the reference list and identifying articles that cite a source article is called "citation chaining."

Use the references page to find research the author(s) cited in their work.

Go back in time!

reference list

Go forward in time!

Use Communication and Mass Media Complete's "Cited in This Database" or Google Scholar's "Cited by" links to find works that build on a useful or interesting article.


Times Cited in This Database link

Google Scholar cited by link