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Library Session for Public Relations Theory & Practice - JMC 68000

Carolyn Radcliff
Liaison Librarian for Journalism & Mass Communication


 1. Finding a PR-relevant journal article

a. Scholarly, trade, and popular magazines

Magazines are published with different audiences in mind. Consequently, the articles in those magazines are very different from each other in terms of content, length, look, tone, and more. Take a look at this chart that describes those differences.

b. Browse through PR journals (Word document)

c. Use a research database: Communication & Mass Media Complete

2. Writing annotations

Writing Like a Graduate Student - Indiana University

Online Writing Lab at Purdue University

Appalachian State University Library

3. Conducting a literature review

a. About

At its most formal, a literature review is a synthesis of previously published writings. Usually associated with scholarly journal articles, literature reviews identify studies that are pertinent to the topic at hand, and describe the contribution that each of those studies makes to our knowledge of the topic. Generally, lit reviews trace the accumulation of knowledge through research and point out what is still unknown.

A literature review shows the reader that the researcher has identified the key previous research on the topic. A lit review also makes the case for the need to conduct more research. In a scholarly article, the author then goes on to describe her or his new study and how it contributes new knowledge of the topic.

b. How it is done

There are many guides and examples for literature reviews. The key questions to ask are:

  • What has already been published on this topic?
  • Which of those are scholarly or academic studies?
  • What is the *specific* topic of the lit review?
    (It is very common for writers to get distracted from the original idea or to have a topic so broad that a full lit review would include dozens of sources.) 

c. Guides and examples:

Writing a Literature Review - University of Canberra

Review of Literature - Writing Center at University of Wisconsin - Madison