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COM 213: Rhetoric of Food: Start

Research is a Conversation Video

Associations & Organizations

Consider what associations or other organizations might be involved in your topic, since they will likely be leading conversations related to your topic. You can explore what's out there through a google search. Also consult some of the suggestions below:

Reference Books

Reference books are a fantastic way to enter the conversation. They give you overviews of topics, search term ideas, and often lists of recommended reading. Here are a few that may be especially useful. Be sure to search the library catalog or ask Julie for help in finding more.

Reference books are located on the main floor, Beck Hall side of the building. They can't be checked out but you can scan pages and email them to yourself.

You should also take a look at CQ Researcher, which is found in the reference section (REF H35 .E352). Most recent issues are in a binder and you'll also find materials by year. The CQ Researcher contains in-depth pamphlets on a variety of subjects. Search the index to find the most recent info about your topic. 

Catalog Search Box

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Advanced search · Books, videos, and music

Julie's Strategies for Doing Community-Based Research

The strategies we use for researching issues in our communities are similar to the ones we use for any other kind of research. Research is a conversation (for more about this, see the video to the left!), and in order to know what experts are talking about in your area of study, you need to gain a broad understanding of the conversations happening around your topic before you can start contributing meaningfully to the conversation. For your topics, you will want to consider what the scholarly literature says about your topic, as well as track down examples of how the conversation is playing out both locally and more broadly. 

Here's an overview of strategies for doing this kind of research:

  • Read broadly in the field, especially in the kinds of publications that are used in the field. These may be newspaper articles, trade publications (works produced by people in the field for others in the field), scholarly articles, books, blog posts, twitter conversations, etc. 
  • Pay attention to the primary issues people are discussing. What are the hot topics in your field? Where are the passionate, involved, maybe controversial conversations happening and what are they?
  • Note the vocabulary people are using in conversations. Are there specific phrases or specialized vocabulary people in the field use? Pay attention to these words and phrases, since you will be using these as search terms.
  • Identify some of the key players in the conversation. Who are the experts? Can you find more materials that they've written? With community-based research, this might also mean picking up the phone or emailing someone in the community who is a local expert.
  • Throughout the entire process, you should always be evaluating what you find. Are you finding sources written or produced by experts in the field? How can you tell? Do any claims sound dubious or conflicting? Try to verify the facts and find out the facts.



You can always get in contact with Julie with any questions or issues, or if you just want advice on how to proceed. Use the contact information under my picture to get ahold of me. Or send me a message on Slack!

Searching for Articles

Use the following databases to search for articles about your topic. Search both during the Enter and Explore stages of research. Look for materials about your topic and then return to find additional sources.

Local Newspapers

To investigate your topic, you may need to access local sources. These are the kinds of sources that don't necessarily pop up in traditional library searches. Here are some ideas and links:

Statistics and Other Data

There are many places to find statistics. Pay attention to any articles or books you're reading, as they will likely contain statistics about your topics already. You can also try some of these places:


Julie Gilbert's picture
Julie Gilbert
Hello! I'm on sabbatical during the 2020-2021 academic year. If you have a question about research, an assignment, or the library, please contact any of the reference librarians at or via the Ask Us! button on the library's homepage.

New to the Library?

If doing research in the library and at the college level is relatively new to you, have no fear. You can always ask for help in the library, either at the Reference Desk or, if no one's at the Reference Desk, at the Information Desk. Both are right inside the front entrance of the library.

You might also find this guide useful in answer basic questions about how the library (and research) work.

Avoiding Plagiarism

This guide from Purdue University provides an overview of plagiarism and best practices for avoiding it.

Evaluating Journals and Magazines

Learn how to distinguish between scholarly, popular, and trade articles.  From the North Carolina University Libraries.

Choosing Sources

Choosing Sources

Tips on how to recognize reliable sources by evaluating them in terms of relevance, currency, audience, and credibility.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License