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Media Studies

What is media?

Media as plural of Medium:

  • An intermediate agency, instrument, or channel. 
  • A means or channel of communication or expression
  • Any physical material (as tape, disk, paper, etc.) used for recording or reproducing data, images, or sound.

Media / Mass Media:

  • main means of mass communication (esp. newspapers, radio, and television, regarded collectively).
  • Reporters, journalists, etc., working for organizations engaged in such communication. 

(from OED oxford english dictionary March 2021


Scholarly Sources

There is NO single search engine. The "search the library" box is very specific, e.g. does NOT find articles!

Thousands of database search engines; each has unique (and idiosyncratic) content, features, and ways of searching.

Different format/genres require different searching: books, articles (academic, trade, popular), films, audio, newspapers, primary sources, art, etc. 

You might get lucky with your first random search, but probably not.


UAlberta (and other NEOS partner libraries). Also other formats but NOT ARTICLES:

  • "search the library": put in some keywords and let it decide how to search and display
  • "advanced search": take some control over your search. E.g. use specific fields, AND, OR, "quotation marks"

Use metadata as direct links or incorporate into your keyword searches (e.g. subject terms, author, etc)

Examples of advanced search using subject terms field  --> you can mix-n-match or add additional terms to other fields


Many database search engines include scholarly articles.

Here are some good starting places. Find more: subject guides or find databases.

Discipline Specific search engines

Multi-disciplinary/genre/format search engines

Media Formats: Searching scholarly and primary sources

Search hints:

  • Put multiword phrases in "quotation marks". 
  • Use advanced search and add further limiting concept terms [sometimes just "subject" field]
    • AND (history OR historigraphy)
    • AND "social aspects" 
    • AND (philosophy OR theory OR theoretical)
    • AND (history OR historiography OR "social aspects" OR philosophy OR theory OR theoretical)
    • AND sources [this often means "primary source']
    • AND "equipment and supplies"
    • AND "recording and reproducing"
  • Use post-search facets: e.g. publication format/type, publication year


Keywords and phrases: oral tradition, oral history, transmission of texts, oral communication, language and culture.



Paper, ink, writing implements, codex, vellum, 


Some search terms:

  • incunabula, "moveable type"
  • linotype


  • television, TV, "television broadcasting"
  • radio, "radio broadcasting", "portable radios"
  • telegraph, telegraphy, fax, "facsimile transmission" "fax machines"

Sound Recording

  • analog OR analogue
  • Phonograph
  •  Analogue, LP, vinyl, magnetic tape, wax cylinder, wire
  • "digital music players"
  • "cassette tape recorders" 
  • "Portable radios"
  • "sound recordings", "sound studios", "recording and reproducing"

Visual Recording

  • video, "video tape recorder", VHS, betamax
  • photograph, photography, daguerrotype
  • "motion picture", "feature films", cinema, film, cinematography
  • holography


Digitization, internet, computers, games

Librarian contact (don't be shy!)
1. Check my calendar (white space)
2. Email me with possible times

Library|research cheatsheet

Libraries, Searching, & Academic Research Culture

Library cheatsheet: condensed reminders and inspiration for further learning.