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Conducting a Literature Search Using Online Article Databases


Today we will „

Review the process of finding research articles for your topic

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Show advanced search techniques in PsycInfo and Social Services Abstracts

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Give tips for limiting your search to peerreviewed, research-based articles


In review: databases at BC ƒ Over 400 online databases at Boston College ƒ Social Work Library database list by concentration is geared towards social work research ƒ The FindIt button presents your options: ¾ link to the article online ¾ locate it in print ¾ request a copy through Interlibrary Loan


Heavily used database: PsycInfo „

Provides citations to international literature in psychology and related disciplines (including social work)

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Indexes professional journals, book chapters, scholarly journals and dissertations

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Updated weekly with new references


Before starting database research „

Identify your research question

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Sample questions: •

Is there a correlation between poverty and obesity? Do support groups help teenagers cope with grief?


Identify keywords and synonyms „

Keywords: ‰

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adolescents, support groups, grief

Possible synonyms: ‰

bereavement, loss


Make the most of your keywords with truncation* „

Instead of teenagers or adolescents, try teen* or adoles*

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Instead of support groups try support group*

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Instead of grieving or bereavement, try grie* or bereav*


Use Boolean Search Terms „

AND narrows your search by telling the database to show only the articles that contain both keywords

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OR broadens your search by telling the database to show articles that contain either keyword


Revising your search with Descriptors „

Subject headings next to the citation that describe the topics in the article

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Use these subject headings as clues for revising the search

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Example: support group=group counseling


Next Step: Evaluating your sources


Ask two questions about sources „

Is the source peer-reviewed?

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Is it research-based?


Peer-reviewed defined „

An article in a scholarly journal that has been evaluated by an editorial board of specialists in the field of research covered by the journal.

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The board evaluates the quality and reliability of the research that went into the article.


Research-based defined: „

Articles that are based on a summary of studies, a single study, or survey results.

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Distinguish from theoretical pieces: anectodal articles, case studies, or editorials

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For the purposes of this class, you may want to focus on research-based articles.


Types of Research-Based articles „

Primary sources: qualitative or quantitative studies, empirical studies, longitudinal studies

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Secondary sources: literature review, metaanalyses, systematic reviews

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PsycInfo lets you limit your search to these types of sources


A word about methodology limits „

Excellent for focusing the search but may limit your results

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Empirical studies is the broadest category

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Try several searches, each looking for a different methodology

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Use recommended keywords to retrieve research-based articles


Some examples of keywords ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ

study data findings methodology research quantitative qualitative empirical outcomes


Social Services Abstracts & More: For Macro/Policy Questions


About Social Services Abstracts „

Excellent, well-rounded social work database covering policy and human service issues.

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Same format as PsycInfo

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Can search SSA simultaneously with other policy databases, a good strategy for interdisciplinary research


Other Excellent Policy Databases „

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ASSIA: interdisciplinary databases covering sociology, political science, social work, and the health sciences PAIS International: literature of public and social policy; excellent for global practice issues You can search all of these at once for a comprehensive search.


Question:

Is there a correlation between income level and obesity?


Set up the search strategy income level OR socioeconomic status AND obes* OR overweight AND study OR data OR findings


Next step: supplement research with: „

Book Chapters

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Reference Books

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Statistics from reference books and websites

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The references from articles you have found


Cite your sources using APA Style „

APA Style Manual in Library

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Supplementary guide to citing online resources

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Reliable online sources like the OWL at Purdue

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Watch for RefWorks workshops


Get additional help „

Stop by the reference desk

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e-mail swlib@bc.edu

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Instant Message (look for the Meebo box)


Doing a literature search