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COMM U375 - Communication Research Methods: Communication Reference

A Course Guide for all sections of Communication Research Methods: COMM U375

Using Reference Books

Although you don't usually cite reference materials such as dictionaries and encyclopedias they can 

  • help you narrow and focus your topic
  • define terms you are unsure about
  • provide background information
  • offer important facts and figures
  • lead you to other books and articles on your topic

Dictionary  - This resource defines selected words and terms, confirms spelling, definition and pronunciation, explains how words are used, and helps to locate synonyms and antonyms.

Subject Dictionary - These sources focus on the vocabulary of a subject or discipline. (The Penguin dictionary of science

Directory - This source gives contact information such as names, addresses, and telephone numbers.

Encyclopedia (General) - These sets provide summaries of information and ideas in a comprehensive manner. They are useful for providing facts and obtaining a broad survey of a topic. (The encyclopedia Americana)

Subject Encyclopedia  - These sources contain articles on topics within a specific subject. (The encyclopedia of twentieth-century fiction)

Reference Sources

QUICK TIP!...Subject encyclopedias and other reference books are good for background reading on a topic to find out what the general consensus is and what research questions might be viable.

  • Find a selection of print sources available in the reference section on the Communications Header
  • Search the library catalog for reference books by typing "ref AND [your topic]" into the search box.
  • You may need to identify the broader subjects of which your topic is a part in order to find useful reference books (e.g., "music," "popular music," "popular culture," rather than "hip-hop.")

Find Books and E-Books using SearchUP


Advanced Search

During the summer of 2020, USC Upstate Library installed a new search tool.  SearchUp provides one-stop searching for books and e-books, journal articles, DVDs, and more.  The search box in this widget allows you to directly search for materials found in what was previously called the Library Catalog.


The video below provides a brief introduction on how to use the new SearchUP to find books and e-books in the USC Upstate library collection.  



Some Popular Online Reference Collections