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COMM 120: Public Speaking: Getting Started

A Research Guide for Norma Jones' COMM 120 course (Fall 2021)

Research on Current Events

For your speeches, it is a good idea to look at a broad swath of resources. Resources can come from popular sources, or from scholarly sources. These sources can be found online via databases or the online library catalog, or on the Internet using tools such as Google. This Research Guide will help you with these different research tools.

What is a popular source?

A popular source is a source intended for a general audience. You can usually buy these sources in a grocery store or a bookstore. They are written in a way that is easy to read and understand, and often have pictures or images. Because popular sources take less time to publish that scholarly sources, they can be a good source of information on current events.

What is an academic source?

An academic source can come in one of many formats, such as journal articles, books, or even websites.  They share the same distinct characteristics to qualify as academic. The source's author is an expert on the topic, and is often affiliated with a university, research lab/group, or research hospital. There is usually a reference list or bibliography at the end of the source, and the source is usually pretty lengthy. The intended audience is academic, and the source is written for that audience. The source has gone through a rigorous editorial review process (referred to as peer review).

Most databases will allow you to restrict your results to only academic sources or peer-reviewed (reviewed by peers of the author). These articles take longer to research and write than popular articles, so they may not be as up-to-date as popular articles. However, they can provide really good background information on current topics.