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Communication Studies 301 - Introduction to Public Speaking (Hicks)

Most instructors assign some type of analysis work, in which you are expected to research a topic and then create a paper, speech or presentation that represents your analysis of the topic.

The most effective way to increase your knowledge and understanding of any topic is to consult the writings of the people who work in or study your field or theme of interest.  If you are exploring a topic for the first time, we often recommend starting off by gaining some background knowledge of the subject before jumping into more specific analysis.  Research is an iterative process, meaning that you will often repeat steps as you gain more understanding of your subject area.  Librarians are here to help you navigate this process, and provide suggestions for your exploration of any theme.

Access to the analysis of these experts, professionals and scholars is a commodity, it is worth money. That is why it is often difficult to find a lot of high-quality, lengthy analysis for free online.  The Los Rios Libraries pay for your access to high-quality, in-depth research in both our print and electronic collections. If you aren't finding what you are looking for, please discuss with a librarian at your college and we will be glad to seek out materials that would benefit you and others who share your interests.


When doing research, it is useful to understand the different types of periodicals and the kind of information they contain.

Journals (Scholarly/Professional)

  • Contain original research articles written by the scholars themselves.
  • May contain news related to the field.
  • Published by professional societies for those working in that discipline.
  • Often the most credible resources available since most articles are reviewed by experts in the subject.
  • Articles are usually longer and contain citations.


  • Shorter articles written for more general audience.
  • Typically written by journalists.


  • Contain the most current news about a topic.
  • Not usually scholarly or professional, but may be only source of information on newer topics.


Books typically provide extensive coverage on one topic or theme. Subject-specific reference books (encyclopedias & dictionaries) can provide you with background information as well as the historical context of your topic.

  • Circulating Books (print books) may be checked out for use outside the library. 
  • Electronic Books (eBooks) are always available and may be viewed on any computer with an internet connection, on or off campus.   
  • Reference Books (encyclopedias & dictionaries) are available for use in the library, but not for checkout. Don't worry, we also have electronic encyclopedias and dictionaries too.

Write down the call number ‚Äčof any print books in your search results to help you locate the books on the shelf, and to give you an idea of where to browse for similar titles. In this library, we use the Library of Congress Classification System to organize books on the shelves.  If you need help finding a book on the shelf, please ask for assistance.  We are happy to help.


Websites can be valuable supplementary sources to information you have gathered from books and periodicals. However, it is very important that you evaluate the information you find to determine if it is reliable and useful.

The evaluation process is more important than ever when reviewing websites since web publishing is not limited according to expertise.  Information on the web does not have to be intelligent or knowledgeable, scholarly or authoritative, and in many cases, the content does not have to pass any kind of revision or editorial process.

Many institutional and organizational websites include statements about the types and sources of information that are provided on their websites, as well as the purpose of the organization itself.  If you are unable to determine the nature of an organization or web author, it is best to explore alternative sources to see if you can verify their information or claims.