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FYS 100 - Social Media : Masters or Monsters? (Prof. Smith)

This guide offers background and analytical sources as well as research strategies to fulfill the goals of this course, which seeks, through discussion, group activities, and group presentations, to develop a deeper awareness of social media's effects
Subjects: Communication, First Year Seminar

Academic Background/Overview Sources

The clearer your picture of the concept you have in your mind, the more productive and efficient your search for information will be.  Consider using reference sources, particularly specialized encyclopedias and dictionaries, to obtain definitions and descriptions for clarity.  These works may also reveal complimentary or conflicting aspects of a concept when it is used in different contexts.

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Oxford English Dictionary - the most comprehensive dictionary for determining the origin and use of words in the English language - has a variety of definitions and examples of words and phrases associated with the concept "social media", for example "digital footprint" or cyberbullying. 


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Credo Reference brings together over 800 reference works from more than 100 academic publishers, including dozens of university press publications.  This breadth of coverage will allow you to see how "social media" or any related terms or concepts (see the OED description above) have been used in a wide variety of fields from film and media, to social and cultural history, or anthropology, philosophy, or the performing arts.  Note that many of these background definitions and discussions also include links to further information from books in the Library Catalog, as well as journals articles and websites chosen by the Credo editors.


Library Catalog - expanding your search using Subject Headings

The book whose Library Catalog record is reproduced below has four main ideas as its focus.  These ideas are shown in the area labelled "Subjects."  The catalog records for other books focused on any of these same ideas will have some of the same Subject Headings.  One of the most effective ways to expand your search from its initial starting point, in this case "Social Media", is to examine the Subjects assigned to the books and documents in your result list for additional useful terms.  The Subjects (sometimes labelled "Library of Congress Subject Headings") are live links in the Library Catalog and can directly generate a new search for additional material using that new concept.  In the example below, "Social Media Law and legislation" forms one focus of this book, but it also focuses on the broader idea of "Mass media Censorship".

As it happens, Adams Library has a digital copy of this work which can be read directly via the Catalog or borrowed as a download to your own device for a limited period.  If this were a print book that another library in our consortium - the HELIN Consortium - had available, you can easily REQUEST such a print book from any other HELIN library.   Turn-around time is about 2 - 4 working days.

Be aware that you can limit or filter your search using the features you see in the left-hand column next to your search results.  In this screen shot you see the Format limit. Consider choosing BOOK first, then look at the items using the ARTICLE/Chapter limit, and finally note other limits such as date ranges (e.g. last 5 years) to focus your search even further.

Library Catalog and beyond

Adams Library is a member of HELIN: the Higher Education Library Information Network, a group of 7 academic libraries in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts.

Almost any print item found in the Library Catalog which displays "At HELIN Library Consortium" can be requested directly from any of the HELIN libraries using the "Get it..." button in the  "Where is it?" box.  Turn-around time for delivery to Adams Library is typically 2 - 4 days.  Print items can be requested from anywhere, but material from libraries outside Rhode Island may take longer to arrive.

Just using "Social Media" in a keyword search generated a result list with over half a million items on it.  Even limiting your search to materials in the Adams Library collections yields over 100,000 results.    The tiny list shown below of books and other materials in Adams Library's own collections will give you a taste of the amazing variety of resources available to you.  You should also consider searching Subject terms related to Social Media.  Here are a few examples:

  • Social media Political aspects
  • Mass media Social aspects
  • Online social networks
  • Social media Law and legislation
  • Social media and society
  • Online identities Social aspects
  • Online hate speech
  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • XX Social Media Influencers, use instead Internet Personalities
  • [Specific named apps, e.g. Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.]

Using terms related to your initial search words help you to discover an even greater variety of materials.

Citing Sources

Consult the wise old OWL OWL - The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University - to get basic structural information for creating a citation list or bibliography using a particular citation style such as APA, MLA, or Turabian.