Conducting a Literature Search Using Online Article Databases
Today we will
Review the process of finding research articles for your topic
Show advanced search techniques in PsycInfo and Social Services Abstracts
Give tips for limiting your search to peerreviewed, research-based articles
In review: databases at BC Over 400 online databases at Boston College Social Work Library database list by concentration is geared towards social work research 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)
Indexes professional journals, book chapters, scholarly journals and dissertations
Updated weekly with new references
Before starting database research
Identify your research question
Sample questions: •
Is there a correlation between poverty and obesity? Do support groups help teenagers cope with grief?
Identify keywords and synonyms
adolescents, support groups, grief
Make the most of your keywords with truncation*
Instead of teenagers or adolescents, try teen* or adoles*
Instead of support groups try support group*
Instead of grieving or bereavement, try grie* or bereav*
Use Boolean Search Terms Â„
AND narrows your search by telling the database to show only the articles that contain both keywords
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
Use these subject headings as clues for revising the search
Example: support group=group counseling
Next Step: Evaluating your sources
Ask two questions about sources Â„
Is the source peer-reviewed?
Is it research-based?
Peer-reviewed defined Â„
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.
The board evaluates the quality and reliability of the research that went into the article.
Research-based defined: Â„
Articles that are based on a summary of studies, a single study, or survey results.
Distinguish from theoretical pieces: anectodal articles, case studies, or editorials
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
Secondary sources: literature review, metaanalyses, systematic reviews
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
Empirical studies is the broadest category
Try several searches, each looking for a different methodology
Use recommended keywords to retrieve research-based articles
Some examples of keywords
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.
Same format as PsycInfo
Can search SSA simultaneously with other policy databases, a good strategy for interdisciplinary research
Other Excellent Policy Databases
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.
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:
Statistics from reference books and websites
The references from articles you have found
Cite your sources using APA Style
APA Style Manual in Library
Supplementary guide to citing online resources
Reliable online sources like the OWL at Purdue
Watch for RefWorks workshops
Get additional help
Stop by the reference desk
Instant Message (look for the Meebo box)