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Maximising Library Resources

Other Resources for Research:
Research evaluation tips
Guidlines for Writing Critical Reviews
How to write write Research Papers in APA Format

This page provides some representative research strategies for your paper. Only journal articles and book chapters are allowed for this assignment; popular magazines, newspapers, encyclopaedias, and dictionaries are unacceptable sources. [That is only primary (new knowledge) and secondary (a review of the research based on primary literature) sources are acceptable.**]

** Please be sure to ask for assistance at an Academic Library Reference Desk whenever you need help.

Getting Started

To select a topic, review your textbook for ideas that are of personal interest to you. Once you have selected a possible topic, consult with your professor on the scope (i.e., the breadth and depth of your topic). After your topic is approved, make notes on: 1) the terminology used to describe your subject; 2) any key names (authors, researchers, founders, etc.) associated with your subject; and 3) any relevant cited references.

In order to locate book chapters and journal articles on your research topic, refer to the following search tools prior to conducting your online searches:

  • for books, use the Library of Congress Subject Headings volumes
  • for journal articles, use the Thesaurus of psychological index terms
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Use this tool to find the authorized subject terminology on your topic in searching for books in online card catalogue systems.
    Example     Explanations
Eating disorders (May Subd Geog)  Boldface indicates authorized subjects. "May subdivide with geographic location" (e.g., Eating disorders—United States).
[RC552.E18]  Classification or call number.
Here are entered works on gross disturbances in eating behavior as a subclass of mental disorders.  Works on appetite disturbances as symptoms of organic, psychological or psychosocial disorders are entered under Appetite disorders. Scope notes define subject coverage.
UF Disorders of eating  UF = Used For
      Eating, Pathological
      Eating disturbances
      Eating dysfunctions
      Pathological eating
BT Appetite disorders BT = Broader Topic
      Psychology, Pathological
NT Anorexia nervosa  NT = Narrower Topic
      Compulsive eating
      Pica (Pathology)
-- Diagnosis (May Subd Geog)  Subdivision (i.e., Eating disorders—Diagnosis—United States)
NT Eating Disorder Inventory
     Example      Explanation
Posttraumatic stress disorder  Refers to the authorized form.
USE Post-traumatic stress disorder
     Example      Explanations
Post-traumatic stress disorder Authorized form
(May Subd Geog) "May subdivide with geographic location."
[RA1152.P67 (Forensic psychiatry)]  Classification or call numbers.
[RC552.P67 (General)]
UF Posttraumatic stress disorder  UF = Used For
      PTSD (Psychiatry)
      Stress disorder, Post-traumatic
      Traumatic stress syndrome
BT Anxiety  BT = Broader Topic
      Stress (Psychology)
      Traumatic neuroses
NT Post-traumatic stress disorder in children NT = Narrower Topic
     Rape trauma syndrome
-- Prevention Post-traumatic stress disorder—Prevention
    NT Psychological debriefing 

Psychological Abstracts

For scholarly journal articles, technical reports, monographic series, and dissertations in psychology, use Psychological Abstracts. This tool is produced by the American Psychological Association and currently indexes material from over 1,300 journals published in 50 countries and 28 languages. Our library owns the printed volumes 2-79 (1928-92) located near the Reference Area with the Abstracts BF1 .P65. In addition, the library has access to the entire database through an online system called FirstSearch.

Printed Series
Familiarize yourself with the printed series first so you can see how it is set up. The printed series is comprised of: 1) citations/references to published items (each item is given an entry number); 2) subject index; and 3) author index.

Using the subject term(s) for your topic found in the latest edition of Thesaurus of psychological index terms, locate a printed Subject Index volume and find your subject term(s). Your subject term, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, may be followed by a designation for the type of publication (i.e., Alcoholics Anonymous—Serials). Underneath the boldface headings are a list of descriptions of published items followed by entry numbers. Refer to the volumes for that same year and find your entry number. The entry includes the bibliographic citation and an abstract or non-evaluative summary (except dissertations do not have abstracts; abstracts for dissertations can be found in Dissertation Abstracts).

To access the databases comparable to the printed series, go to the Westmont College Library home page. Click on the FirstSearch option. At the main menu, select the database category for Social Sciences. As of mid-August 1998, the following databases represent different time periods covered by Psychological Abstracts.

PsycInfo_1967covers 1967 to date

Internet Resources

For the purposes of this course and for your scholarly psychological research, the Internet is considered an unacceptable source. However, for your personal use you may find the web site for the American Psychological Association of interest. To connect to the web site, enter the address shown below in boldface type.

This web site includes information on its organization, membership, APA books and journals, database coverage, convention highlights, APA Monitor online, and information for undergraduate students.

While these sources aren't acceptable as a research source, they are great sources for research ideas:

  • Encyclopaedia of psychology. Ref. BF31 .E52 1994
  • Handbook of child psychology. Ref. BF721 .H242 1998
  • Steven’s handbook of experimental psychology. Ref. BF181 .H336 1988
And remember:  focus on the learning and the writing, and the grades will take care of themselves.  A great way to obtain journal articles is to examine journals in local & university libraries.

Some Acceptable Journals:

J of Abnormal Psy
J of Applied Psy
Behavioral Neuroscience
J of Comparative Psy
J of Family Psy
Contemporary Psy
American Psychologist
APA Monitor
Developmental Psy
J of Counseling Psy
J of Educational Psy
J of Experimental Psy
Psychology & Aging
Health Psy
J of Personality & Social Psy
Professional Psy: Research & Prac.
J of Consulting & Clinical Psy

The American Psychological Association provides samples of journals.  Contact APA subscriptions department at 800-374-2721 or 202-336-5600. 

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