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:
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:
Communication yearbook (Carrier P87 .C5974) This title is indexed like a journal in Communication & Mass Media Complete, from 2003-2008, so you can also search for chapters within it. The full text is in print in the Carrier Library Stacks - these can be checked out just like books. Check LEO to see which ones are available.
Handbook of communication science (Carrier Ref P90 .H294 1987)
Handbook of interpersonal communication (Carrier Ref BF637 .C45 H287 2002)
Handbook of media and communications research (Carrier P91.3 .H34 2002)
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:
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:
Don't ignore books in the general collection as potential sources for extensive bibliographies and literature reviews.