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COM 120: Public Discourse: Research on Your Topic


Use the resources on this page to get a sense of your problem within a wider context. These resources will direct you to excellent sources of information, but remember to ground your topic within your community. Be sure you are looking for local information as well.

Important: Consider the Source

  • If you find a statistic using Google, where is this information coming from? Is it a private organization? A non-profit? A scholarly source? A government agency?
  • Is the place where you found the statistic the original source of the information? If not, make sure you are able to track down the original source of the information, whether it be a government agency, a scholarly study, or a primary source like a news interview with a particular person.

Search Here, Too

These two sources are both excellent. Be sure to try them, too!

Article Databases

These databases are a great place to start, in part because they contain articles from many disciplines. You should also think about the subject area that best fits your problem. Are you looking at a health-related problem? Or one set in the schools? Check out our Research Guides and select the subject area(s) that best fit. Browse the guides that are listed under your subject area to find additional places to search.


Try a search in the Gustavus Library catalog to see if we have any books about your problem, too. Don't shy away from books. Even though they are longer than articles, books can also contain very useful information - and if you use them right, can be even quicker to read than articles. Check out this post (and video!) from the Happy Arkansan on how to effectively skim an academic book.


When looking for statistics related to your problem, it is best to look at what comes up in sources you find. Sometimes we think of statistics as something that exists independently of content, when in fact you'll be more likely to find statistics in the sources you are already finding. Check out the state-wide data box on the first page of this guide. Having said that, the Library does have a Guide to Statistics, which may be useful. Please also contact me for help finding statistics.

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