Mass Media Analysis and Criticism: Secondary Critical Sources

Overview of Periodicals

  • Periodicals (magazines, newspapers, trade publications, and scholarly journals) are excellent sources of current and/or specific information for research projects.
  • To see a list of the journals specific to journalism, public relations, etc. that the Oviatt Library subscribes to, from the Library Catalog's Basic search page, select keyword and enter journalism periodicals (or public relations, mass communication, mass media, etc. along with periodicals) in the Search for: box. From the Limit to: pulldown menu, change "entire collection" to "Periodicals/Serials," and then click Submit Search. Note: any periodical title proceeded by the phrase [electronic resource] or [online] means that it is available via the Internet.
  • Library databases help identify articles by keywords. For a complete list of available databases, see Databases A-Z or Databases by Subject.

Specialized Databases:

Communication and Mass Media Complete (EBSCOhost)
Indexes and abstracts over 600 journals and trade publications; includes full text for over 240 journals. CMMC incorporates the content of CommSearch (formerly produced by the National Communication Association) and Mass Media Articles Index (formerly produced by Penn State). Subjects covered include journalism, public relations, mass media, photojournalism, communication studies, speech, linguistics, communicative disorders, deaf studies, advertising, and related areas of interest to practitioners and educators in these fields. Dates of coverage vary by journal.  Includes cited reference searching to find out who has cited a particular author.
Sage Journals Online
Full text access to journals in the social sciences, humanities, and sciences, including almost 20 communication and media studies journals.
Film & Television Literature Index (EBSCOHost)
Indexes over 350 U.S. and international film and television periodicals, including popular magazines, scholarly journals, and trade publications. In addition, selected content is chosen from thousands of additional publications that contain relevant content. Dates of coverage vary.
Wiley Online Library: Communication & Media Studies Journals
Full text database includes journals and books in mass communication and media. While all Wiley content can be searched, CSUN on has access to those titles that have the "open lock" icon unlocked padlock icon .

General Databases:

Academic Search Premier (EBSCOhost)
Provides full text for nearly 4,600 periodicals, including more than 3,900 full-text peer-reviewed journals.  This database offers information in nearly every area of academic study. Allows limiting search results to peer-reviewed scholarly journals. 
Project MUSE
Project Muse includes full-text scholarly journals in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences, including journals in film, theatre, and performing arts; classics, language, and music. A list of the journals covered by Project MUSE is available.
Directory of Open Access Journals
Freely available scholarly and academic online journals.
Google Scholar
Searches scholarly journals and other academic sources. To be able to link to full text available thru the CSUN library, click on "Settings," then "Library Links," and then search "CSUN" in the "Find Library" box. Select "Open WorldCat - Library Search" and "CSU, Northridge - SFX Find It at CSUN" and Save. You only have to do this once on your computer.

Scholarly Journals (Peer-reviewed/Referreed)

Image of American Journal of Philology
  • Authors are authorities in their fields.
  • Authors cite their sources in endnotes, footnotes, or bibliographies.
  • Individual issues have little or no advertising.
  • Articles must go through a peer-review or refereed process.
  • Articles are usually reports on scholarly research.
  • Illustrations usually take the form of charts and graphs.
  • Articles use jargon of the discipline.

Developing a Search Strategy

  1. Once you have chosen a topic, write it down in the form of a question or brief statement:
    What is the relationship between SAT scores and college success?
  2. Underline the key words and phrases that are most specific to your topic.
    What is the relationship between SAT scores and college success?
  3. Write down each key word or phrase, and underneath it, list synonyms or related terms.
    Use a dictionary or thesaurus to find additional keywords. For example:


    • scholastic aptitude test


    • university


    • achievement
  4. Think about the singular, plural, and other endings of words and write down the root of the word.
    • SAT
    • scholastic aptitude test
    • college, colleges -- college
    • university, universities -- universit
    • success, successful, succeed -- succe
    • achievement, achieve, achiever -- achieve
  5. Write down your key words and phrases along with their synonyms in the form of a Boolean search statement. Use the root word, and truncate it with an asterisk (*). Note: Different databases use different truncation or wildcard symbols. Check the database's help page. For example:

    (SAT or scholastic aptitude test) and (college* or universit*) and (sucee* or achieve*)