Loading icon

COMM 101 Research Resources

Resources for Fundamentals of Communication

Library Research Video Series

This series of five videos will help COMM 101 students consider the ways in which information is created, assist in developing information evaluation skills, and locate authoritative information using library resources.

This series will prepare students for completion of the library exercise worksheet (see at right).

Comm 101 Library Worksheet


  • What interests you? Make a list.
  • Scan your textbook for broad topic ideas.
  • Peruse current journals and newspapers to see what catches your eye. Journals and newspapers are located on the main floor.
  • Browse print encyclopedias in Hewes Library. Use the call number list below to browse in a subject area.
  • Search digital encyclopedias for topic keywords and gather background information.
  • Look at "hot topic" databases (see examples at right) that feature articles on current events and controversial issues.
  • Discuss potential topics with your instructor, a librarian or a classmate.

Search these library resources for inspiration

Gather background information on your topic:

Gather background information on your topic:

  • For contextual information about a topic, person, place, or an event
  • To generate research ideas
  • To help focus a topic
  • For more resources that provide bibliographies – which will lead to additional books and articles

Encyclopedias & Handbooks:  search topic keywords

  • Credo Reference This link opens in a new window

Online collection of over 800 reference titles, providing useful definitions, background information, quotations, images, and biographical information.

  • Encyclopaedia Britannica Online This link opens in a new window

The online version of Britannica's encyclopedia, plus thousands of unique online articles, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed.), the Britannica Book of the Year, and more. Updated daily.

  • Oxford Reference Online This link opens in a new window

In-depth, specialized titles from Oxford University Press’s award-winning Encyclopedias and Companions series, and a selection of partner publishers’ scholarly works.

  • Sage E-Reference This link opens in a new window

Reference titles covering a wide variety of subjects, including the humanities and social sciences.

CQ Researcher

CQ Researcher provides original, authoritative reports on social and political issues written by journalists.

  • Topics include public policy, law, civil liberties, international affairs, economics, health, education, the environment, technology, and more.
  • CQ Researcher is known for objectivity, breadth, and depth of coverage.
    CQ research

Evaluating Sources

When conducting research, we encounter information in many places and formats.
It is OUR job to evaluate the information we find to determine:

  • WHAT is the source of the information
  • IF and HOW we should utilize the information

Criteria for Evaluating Sources

Ask these questions to evaluate information and determine IF and HOW you will utilize the information.

Criteria Questions to Ask
1. What is it?
Look at how information is packaged for clues about what it is and how it can be used.
  • Look for physical clues as to the origin of the information.
  • In what medium was the item created and distributed (print, electronic, artifact)?
  • How was the information published (or not)?
  • Is it a piece of a larger entity (chapter, article, webpage from a website)?

2. Authority / Credibility
Determining the author of a source is important in deciding whether information is credible. The author should show some evidence of being knowledgeable, reliable and truthful.

  • Who is the author (person, company, or organization)?
  • Can you describe the author's background (experience, education, knowledge)? 
  • Does the publisher specialize in certain subject areas of knowledge?
  • Does the author provide citations? Do other sources cite this source?

3. Purpose / Intent
Asking why information was created can help determine how (or if) it should be used for research.

  • Is the information fact or opinion?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What is the purpose or motive for the source (educational, commercial, entertainment, promotional, etc.)?
  • Identify possible bias of the author, publisher or sponsor.

4. Accuracy
The source should contain accurate and up-to-date information that can be verified by other sources.

  • Can facts or statistics be verified through another source?
  • How was the data collected? What was the methodology?

5. Scope / Relevance
It is important that the source meets the information needs and requirements of your research assignment.

  • Does the source cover your topic comprehensively or does it cover only one aspect?
  • To what extent does the source answer your research question?
  • Is the source considered popular or scholarly?
6. Currency / Date
Some written works are ageless (e.g., classic literature) while others (e.g., technological news) become outdated quickly. It is important to determine if currency is pertinent to your research.
  • When was the source written and published?
  • Is currency important to your research?

Citation Style Guides

There are several citation styles, but the most frequently used on campus are MLA, APA, and Chicago citation styles. The library maintains copies of each print style guide in the Reference Collection on the main floor, organized by the call numbers below.

Style Guides

Academic Honesty: What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the use of sources without providing correct acknowledgements. When you use ideas or words created by another person and do not give proper credit, you are claiming the words or ideas are your own. In essence, you are stealing from the original writer.

Plagiarism may take many forms: cheating, copying information directly without providing quotation marks, failing to cite sources, or citing sources incorrectly. It does not matter whether you intended to plagiarize or whether the plagiarism occurred unintentionally; it still constitutes academic dishonesty. Ignorance of the rules of correct citation is not an acceptable excuse for plagiarism.

Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty can subject a student to both academic discipline and disciplinary action.  Please see the Monmouth College Student Handbook's section on Academic Honesty.

Avoid Plagiarism

 Academic Integrity: What it is and why it matters: a video by Columbia College Library (Vancouver)

To avoid plagiarizing someone else words or ideas, make sure you:

  • Paraphrase the original text into your own words. Be sure you are not just rearranging phrases or replacing a couple of words.
  • Use quotation marks around text that has been taken directly from the original source.
  • Cite every source of information you use to write your paper, unless it is common knowledge. Common knowledge is generally accepted facts that can be verified in several sources. (example: George Washington was the first U.S. president.)
  • When in doubt, cite it!
  • Read more about avoiding plagiarism from Purdue University's OWL (Online Writing Lab) website

Learn About Citation Styles

Purdue University's OWL (Online Writing Lab) has tutorials on the major citation styles where you can learn more:

Hours of Research Assistance

  • Visit the Information Desk and ask for a Librarian: Monday - Friday 9am-noon, 1:30-4:30pm
  • Email a question or request a virtual consultation: reference@monmouthcollege.edu
  • Chat or Text (309.204.9275) with a Librarian 

Chat with a Librarian!


or TEXT (309)204-9275

When chat is offline, leave a message.

Research Librarians

Sarah Henderson

M.L.I.S. Dominican University, 1996
B.A. Central College, Pella (IA), 1993
(309) 457-2192
Contact for: administration, acquisitions, allocations subscriptions, building maintenance, and donations
Lynn Daw

Technical Services Librarian / Archivist
M.L.S. University of Iowa, 1986 
B.A. University of Iowa, 1985
(309) 457-2187
Contact for: archives, preservation, catalog,
collections and government documents

Media bias charts, information evaluation, and other helpful activities

Fact-Checking Resources

Library database resources provide published, peer-reviewed information sources. Start your research here, rather than Google.

Snopes.com : One of the oldest debunking sites on the Internet, Snopes.com focuses on urban legends, news stories and memes and cite their sources at the end of each debunking.

FactCheck : A product of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, this site assists in checking up on political claims.

Politifact : The Pulitzer Prize-winning Politifact researches the claims of politicians and checks their accuracy.

LinkedIn :  A professional networking website that can help look up the individuals to view background and credentials.

Fact-Checking Sites :  A list of additional reputable websites to help check a claim. From "Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers" by Michael A. Caulfield.

Speech Sources

Additional Audio and Video Speech Sources

Fundamentals of Communication (COMM 101) Literacy Plan

Complementing and building from the ILA experience, Communications 101 provides the opportunity for targeted research on a topic. COMM 101's focus on locating authoritative evidence, critically evaluating information, and citing sources provides ample opportunity for information literacy collaboration.

Research Instruction Session (one class period)

The instruction session in Hewes Library discusses the information creation and dissemination process and evaluates types and purposes of publications, most notably scholarly and popular sources. Students are introduced to strategic exploration using a discrete group of library databases. Faculty may schedule an instruction session with the Public Services Librairan.

Start Your Research Worksheet Assignment

A provided worksheet complements the research instruction session and allows hand-on application of the resources introduced in the library research session. Students utilize the worksheet to begin research on their proposed topic and review the worksheet with a librarian when completed. This conversation is an opportunity to follow up on questions and encourages a more personal dialog. The assignment also serves as an assessment of the instruction session overall. Worksheets are turned in for credit to the course faculty.

Plagiarism Tutorial

Students may be assigned a tutorial (courtesy of Indiana University) to reinforce the importance of citation in academic integrity and the scholarly conversation, building on their ILA experience.  A certificate of completion provides assessment.