Communications and Media: Databases and journal articles

Key databases

Library databases enable you to search for  journal articles, and in some cases conference papers, book chapters, reports, dissertations and many other types of information.

Databases collect together articles in subject areas, allowing you to limit your searching to databases that are relevant to your area of research.

The Library 'Search' allows you to find some articles, but many key journals for communications are not available in Library 'Search', so it is important to use Library databases. 

Tip: In many cases you can link to the full text of articles in these databases by clicking the check for full text option.


Most of the articles in the China Academic Journals(CAJ) database are available as PDFs, but a small minority of articles cant be read or downloaded using PDF. Instead, they require the CAJViewer. Each article gives two download options, CAJdownload and PDF. You will see the link to CAJdownload on the left of the PDF link. 

Information about downloading articles from CAJ

The CAJViewer is not automatically loaded on to Monash computers. However, Monash staff can ask e-solutions to download the software on to your Monash computer. Or you can download the software yourself (free) on to your home computer or laptop. The CAJviewer 7.2 software is available for download from the CNKI home page under the Service tab.

Plan and execute an effective search using the following six steps. This example uses one of  the key database for Communications - Communication & Mass Media Complete

  1. What is the topic?
    Example: What impact does media ownership have on society?
  2. What are the key concepts?
    impact media ownership society
  3. Are there other ways to express these key concepts, in order to widen the search? 
    some general examples:
    • synonyms  eg. monopoly, concentration, power, control
    • plural / singular eg. monopoly, monopolies
    • spelling variations eg. globalisation, globalization
  4. For each key concept, join its keywords with OR
    • monopoly or concentration or power or control
    • media or radio or television or newspapers
    • society or social impact
  5. Link each key concept set with AND, to obtain records which contain at least one of the terms from each concept set: 
    (monopoly or concentration or power or control)  and  (media or radio or television or newspapers)  and  (society or social impact)

    While the effect of OR is to widen the search, AND narrows or focuses the search. You may see them referred to as Boolean operators in search guides.

    This is how the example search is entered in the Communication & Mass Media Complete search engine:

    search in database

  6. Evaluate the records retrieved, and modify the search accordingly
    From the results list view the records which seem to be the most relevant.

    Look for terms within the results, especially Subject terms, which you can use to refine the initial search.

    Subject terms collectively describe the main themes of the article. The same subject terms will also appear in the records for other articles in the database which substantially cover those themes.

    Searching on subject terms can therefore be an effective way of focusing the search on the most relevant articles. They may also suggest terminology or aspects of the topic that you had not considered.

    Below is an example of a modified search based on subject terms identified in various records from the initial search. The selection of Subject in the drop down menu will limit the search to only that part of the record. In general, the fields selected for a search do not have to be the same; eg one concept set may be set to subject terms and another in the same search may remain as the default setting


    Further tips for modifying a search

    To focus the initial search:

    • reduce the terms linked by OR
    • add another key concept, linked by AND (refer to Step 2)
    • limit by date range

    To widen the initial search:

    • increase the terms linked by OR (refer to Step 3)
    • remove a key concept
    • use the truncation symbol (see below).


    Typing a truncation symbol after the root of a word will find variations of that word. This can be a powerful way of expanding the search. The truncation symbol is often a star or asterisk (*). For a particular database check the online help to confirm the symbol to use. For example:

    • monopol* will find monopoly, monopolies, monopolizing
    • hegemon** will find hegemony, hegemonic


Google Scholar is another resource to locate quality material.

If you use the link below (or the links in Library Search and the A-Z Databases page) to access Google Scholar, you'll be able to use the Check for full text link to go straight to many of the articles contained in the Monash University Library databases.


Pros of Google Scholar   Cons of Google Scholar   
  • Generally only shows you reliable, authoritative, academic material
  • Gives you interdisciplinary results, so a single search can reach across topics well
  • Turns up a large amount of results, every time
  • You're able to use the familiar Google interface
  • Checks your spelling!
  • Only finds a small subset of the material available on Library databases and in Library collections
  • Often misses very important articles in a subject area
  • Broken links and repetitive results are common
  • The large number of results can be overwhelming and hard to sift through
  • Requires a strong knowledge of advanced Google searching skills to do complex searches


Did you know?

  • You can use  to view top journals in your field. 
  • You can use  to save and store articles you find on Google Scholar
  • Using  will notify you of new articles you might be interested in when they become available.
  •  can help you create some citations, but be careful! They might not be accurate. Always check them against the Citing and Referencing Guide or the manual of the referencing style you're using.
  • You can add the Google Scholar Button to Chrome to help you search quicker while online.
  • If you are published, you can create an Google Scholar author profile to see the impact of your work


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Searching within a journal

A forum where researchers and scholars first report their findings and ideas. Journals are ongoing publications also referred to as serials, periodicals, magazines or newspapers.

Some journals are peer-reviewed or 'refereed', this means articles published in these journals have been critically evaluated by specialists or experts within academic and / or industry fields. Many journals at Monash are available electronically, but photocopies of articles held in print at other campuses may be requested via the intercampus photocopy service.

To locate journal holdings use the library catalogue Advanced search, Journal title, or, browse keywords.

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