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CCM 221: Rhetorical Theory: Research Themes

Example of constructing a Literature Review on a specific research theme


Both of these clickable links will open up a unique search of the Communications & Mass Media Complete database, giving you hundreds of citations for articles that were published in scholarly / peer reviewed journals.

These searches will yield articles mentioning a key author or researcher in that particular field, as well as articles about the topic that were published in disciplinary journals focusing on Rhetoric, Communications and Media.

You have to determine which of those articles that are appropriate towards your assigned topics from the perspective of how you will be graded on your assignment.

  • - Both of these clickable links will yield hundreds of articles, initially displayed in a brief format.  To see more details, click on the article title which is an active link.  There are arrows at the top & bottom of the screen for moving forwards or backwards through the listing of results.
  • - Some citations carry direct links to the PDF of the underlying articles.  Some citations may carry direct links to the HTML versions, some may have "Linked Full Text" options instead.  When viewing the details of any citation, those various methods of retrieving the underlying articles are found in the left hand column of individual citations.
  • - If you find a citation that interests you, but does not show document delivery options, then you still have the ability to obtain the underlying article by clicking on the maroon colored "Find It @ Willamette" link.
  • - If the Hatfield Library cannot directly connect you to your article, you will then be offered the option to request it via Inter Library Loan.  The library absorbs most costs that are associated with submitting ILL requests.  The typical turnaround time is about 3 business days for each ILL article request.  You will receive an email message when an ILL request has been filled.

These examples employ wildcard searching, through the use of the asterisk (*) so that a search for THEOR* will pull in results that contain Theory, Theoretical, or Theoretically

Several of these search strategies use two-digit codes to limit the search results to specific fields, such as SU for Subjects, instead of the normal default search process.  When no field restrictions are utilized, default searches will matching up your keywords if they are found in:  

  • - Authors names = AU
  • - Author's affiliation = AF
  • - Titles & subtitles of articles = TI
  • - Source / Journal names = SO
  • - Official Subject headings of that database = SU
  • - Words found in the abstracts = AB

Default searches are NOT full text searches!  Full text searches can only work for those sources which have delivered the full text files to the database and have signed contracts that enable full text searching.

If you chose to click on the option called "Full Text" which is found in the left hand column underneath the banner called "Limit To", you will always reduce the number of your results, because many journal sources do not allow full text searching of their articles through this database!

When you conduct a full text search, the keywords & concepts that you hope to find might be found on the last line of the last page!  When you conduct a full text search, you are asking the database to literally find something ANYWHERE within an article, rather than focusing on the major noteworthy components, such as Title of article; Subject headings; or specially coded fields such as Geography or Company name.

With those caveats out of the way, here are examples of 4 research themes for used in a different CCM class:


Logical Reasoning / Stephen Toulmin:  over 780 article citations to scholarly / peer reviewed journals.  This search strategy is using field restriction as well as word proximity (N5 = wants these two words within 5 words of each other, in either direction):   (Toulmin N5 (model* or theor* or diagram* or logic* or reason*)) OR SU(reasoning logic)


Motivational Appeal / Abraham Maslow: over 2,700 article citations.  This search strategy is using both word proximity and field restrictions:

  • SU((motivat* or persua*) N5 (model* or theor* or research or psych*))
  • OR maslow OR (hierarchy needs)

Gary Klein (Reference Librarian)

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Gary Klein
Mark O. Hatfield Library
Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem, OR 97301

Work phone: #503-370-6743

Gary's general work schedule (Spring 2021):
Mon, Tue & Fri = 9am -- 6pm; Wed & Thu = Noon -- 9pm AND ALSO by appointment at other times.