Skip to Main Content
George Mason University Infoguides | University Libraries
See Updates and FAQss for the latest library services updates.

EDIT 766: Understanding Online Presence

Use this guide to locate sources to use for your EDIT 766 course assignments.

Forming Searches

Before you look for articles, you should determine what your topic is and identify keywords and phrases.

State your topic as a question: How does social presence theory affect online learning?

  • identify the keywords/phrases: "social presence theory"  "online learning"
  • brainstorm for synonyms for the concepts:

Alterantive vocabulary for social presence theory and onlone learning

Once you have identified keywords and phrases and synonyms, you are ready to formulate searches.

For example, for the topic How does social presence theory affect online learning? you might search for:

"social presence theory" AND "online learning"

If you don't find anything with that search, then you may want to think of adding some synonyms to your search:

("social presence theory" OR SPT) AND ("online education" OR elearning)


  • The parentheses "( )" tell the database you will take the word social presence theory or the acronym SPT - this search will also include articles with both terms
  • Never use acronyms such as SPT by itself, always put what it means in parentheses as in the example above

Types of Sources - Know the Difference

What is a popular magazine?
Sources published in newspapers and magazines intended for general audience.  You will not find references.  The author may write about politics one week and education the next.

For example: Cover of diffferent magazines

What is a trade publication?
Is written for people who work in a certain field such as Education.  They provide articles on workplace issues, events, and techniques useful to professionals which will help them do a better job. Trade journals are half way between scholarly journals and magazines: they require some background knowledge but the articles are not scholarly in nature.  
For example:  Cover of trade publication

What is a scholarly journal?
Also called an academic journal.  It is a periodical written by academic experts in that specific field.   The articles submitted are reviewed by experts in the same discipline to determine if the article should be published.  Articles are academic in nature and often research-based. 
For example:   Cover of shcolarly journal