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Communication Theories Guide - LSC-North Harris

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Starting Point

  1. Think about your specific communication theory and the name(s) of the developer of the theory.
  2. Remember during your research that many of communication theories have been borrowed or based on theories from other fields of study such as education, business, psychology, anthropology, and many more. 
  3. Look up your theory in your textbook, then move on to other library sources.

Reserve Items

Reserve items are located at the Circulation Desk, second floor of the library.  These items check out for two hours, and are limited to in-library use.

Look up your theory in the Table of Contents, or in the Index.

  • A First Look at Communication Theory 
  • Handbook of Interpersonal Communication  
  • Engaging Theories in Interpersonal Communication  

Reference Books

Located on the third floor of the library.

Look up your theory in the Index.  (The index is usually last volume of the set.)

  • Encyclopedia of Communication and Information P87.5 E53 2002
  • Encyclopedia of Communication Theory REF P87.5 E496 2009
  • Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, 4 vols. REF BF31 .E5 1994
  • Encyclopedia of Psychology, 8 vols. REF BF31 .E52 2000
  • International Encyclopedia of Communications, 4 vols. REF P87.5 .I5 1989

Search Strategy

  • List possible search keywords (terms or phrases that best represent your theory).
  • Initially, omit the word "theory" or "communication."  
  • Possible keywords:
    • name of your theory
    • name of the theorist(s)
    • alternative name of the theory (if any)
    • related theories
    • related keywords that describe the focus of your theory
  • Not enough results?
    • Try alternative or related names for your theory.
    • Instead of the name of your theory, try terms or phrases that describe the concept of your theory.
  • Too many results?  
    • Add the terms "theory" or "communication" to your search string.


  • Name of theory. First, omit the word theory. Then, add it only if initial search results bring up too many unrelated articles.
    • cognitive dissonance (narrow: cognitive dissonance theory)
    • social judgment (narrow: social judgment theory)
  • Name of person. Use the name of the author connected with the theory.
    • Delia, Jesse
    • Sherif, Muzafer
    • McClelland, David
  • Combine terms with and.
    • delia and cognitive and dissonance
    • sherif and social and judgment
    • hierarchy and needs and Maslow
    • acquired needs and mcclelland or try mcclelland and motivation
    • social information procession or try computer mediated communication

Research Databases

Find journal articles. Use your 14-digit library barcode number for off-campus access (the number is on the back of your student ID).  Don't have an ID? Get one from the library. Distance students can fill out the online request form.

Additional Databases:



Find e-books from eBook Collection.

Evaluating Information button

Do my sources pass the CRAP test?

Each of my sources are:

  • Current
  • Reliable & Relevant
  • Authoritative & Accurate
  • Proper Purpose & Point-of-view

See video tutorials:

APA Style

Video Introduction to APA (7 min)



Formatting a Research Paper in Microsoft Word




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