James Madison University
Libraries & Educational Technologies


Communication Studies

Background Information and Facts

The Reference Collection is an excellent place to jumpstart your research. An easy way to search for reference books at JMU Libraries is to click one of the links below, then add your topic in the second row and click search:

Specific types of Reference books:

Encyclopedias and Handbooks  |  Dictionaries  |  Finding Literature Reviews

Encyclopedias and Handbooks

Encyclopedias and 'Handbooks' offer good introductions to topics, not unlike Wikipedia, but with more authority.  Most encyclopedia and handbook entries are written by experts in the field and often include brief lists of the most important articles and books related to a topic.Surprisingly, scholarly 'handbooks' may have longer entries than encyclopedias!

Some example handbooks:


Dictionaries help you learn the lingo specific to a discipline.  Just how is "discourse" different from "conversation?"  What does "semiotics" mean?

Some examples of related dictionaries:

Finding Literature Reviews

In addition to the references at the end of encyclopedias, and handbooks, you can find literature reviews in books and journal articles!

Communication & Mass Media Complete special search for literature reviews - add your own topic to this search!  It is not perfect but it is a good start.



PsycINFO is used primarily to find scholarly, research articles and books. Plenty of literature review articles and book chapters are indexed in there, too.
To find them:

  1. Type in your keywords or subject terms.
  2. In the "Refine Search" tab, look for the "Methodology" limit and scroll down to choose "Literature Review"
  3. Click Search.

JMU Library Catalog

Don't ignore books in the general collection as potential sources for extensive bibliographies and literature reviews.




James Madison University Libraries & Educational Technologies