Before beginning your focused research it can be helpful to spend some time with subject-specialized dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks. These reference resources can provide an excellent overview of a topic. In addition, they serve as a useful way to locate suggestions for keywords and names of authors who are experts in the field. Consider the following selected sources:
Comprehensive Handbook of Psychological Assessment. REF BF176 .C654 2004.
Organized thematically with each volume of this four-volume set covering a different aspect of assessment; Intellectual and Neuropsychological Assessment (v.1), Personality Assessment (v.2), Behavioral Assessment (v.3), and Industrial and Organizational Assessment (v.4). Lengthy articles include bibliographies.
Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology and Behavioral Science. REF BF31.E52 2001. Libraries of the USF System
Includes brief, introductory articles to many topics in the field of psychology. Each article is signed and includes a short bibliography.
Dictionary of Psychology, by Andrew M. Colman REF 31.C65 2001.
Relatively lengthy definitions for the specialized terminology used in the field of psychology. Cross references to related terms are included for many of the entries. Also contains a useful appendix of abbreviations and symbols commonly used in the field.
Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. REF BF311.E53 2003.
A four-volume work focused on all aspects of cognitive science. Numerous photos, charts, and tables help to illustrate key points. A lengthy glossary and index are included in volume 4.
Encyclopedia of Health & Behavior. REF R726.5 .E53 2004.
Arranged alphabetically and covering topics such as behavioral risk factors, eating disorders, loneliness and health, and work-related stress. Each article contains a brief bibliography with an extensive additional bibliography included in the back of the volume.
Encyclopedia of Psychological Assessment. REF BF176 .E53 2003.
Written by experts from around the world, each article includes a general overview followed by a discussion of relevant assessment devices and a brief bibliography.
Encyclopedia of Psychology. REF BF31.E52 2000.
Published by the American Psychological Association and Oxford University Press, this vast encyclopedia includes topics of interest to many areas in psychology. An extensive index in volume 8 is useful for suggesting topics of interest. Each article is signed and includes a short bibliography.
Handbook of Psychology. REF BF121.H1955 2003.
Lengthy articles with extensive bibliographies provide an overview of psychological knowledge. Each of the twelve volumes is devoted to a broad section of psychology: Research Methods in Psychology (v.2), Experimental Psychology (v.4), Assessment Psychology (v.10), etc.
Learning & Memory. REF BF318 .E53 2003.
Arranged alphabetically, entries cover a wide range of topics relating to the learning and retention of information. Brief biographies are included for individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of learning and memory. Brief bibliographies accompany each article.
Additional methods for identifying keywords
The following resources can be very helpful for focusing or expanding a search:
Library of Congress Subject Headings, 27 th ed. Ready Reference
Multi-volume listing of authorized subject headings used to classify books in the Library of Congress classification system (used at USF). Terminology located in these books may be used to search the subject field of the USF Library catalog. Broader, narrower, and related terms are included that will help to increase the relevance of a search.
Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms, 10 th ed. Kept at the reference desk.
Thesaurus of authorized indexing terms used in the PsycINFO database. Provides broader, narrower and related terminology that will help to focus or expand a research topic. An online version of the thesaurus is also available through the databases PsycINFO (EBSCOhost).
The Libraries of the USF System web site
The Libraries of the USF System web site provides access to a wide variety of resources and services. If you are using a computer on campus, simply go to the following URL: http://www.lib.usf.edu
If you are using a computer from off-campus, the best way to access the library web site is to use your netID to go to Blackboard. From there, click on the “Libraries of the USF System” tab, then click on “Libraries of the USF System” in the upper left corner of the page. A new window should pop up. If you perform your searches within the new window, you should be able to access any of the library resources. (Note: If you go directly to the library web site without first going to Blackboard, many of the resources will not allow access.)
Start with the USF Library catalog. Searches may be limited to materials at USF St. Petersburg. Because the subject term “psychology” is so broad, it is advisable to focus on the specific area that you wish to search before accessing the catalog. Check the Library of Congress Subject Headings (listed above) for suggestions of narrower terms (NT) that may be used to increase the relevancy of your search.
The PsycINFO database may also provide titles of books, book chapters, or dissertations that may be useful for your research topic. Use the database WorldCat to locate additional books from around the country that may be available through interlibrary loan.
Locating journal articles
The Libraries of the USF System subscribe to a vast number of resources that provide journal citations and/or full-text articles. Most databases are subject-specific. To locate relevant resources, go to the main library web site (http://www.lib.usf.edu), and under the “Electronic Resources” category, select “databases/newspapers.” From there, select the “by subject category” link and click on “psychology.” Databases listed on this page will be relevant in some way to topics in psychology. The following databases provide good starting points for psychological research:
PsycINFO . 1887 to date.
Produced by the APA, this database is considered the primary index to scholarly, psychological literature. Indexes articles in more than 1,300 journals as well as relevant books and book chapters. Updated monthly.
Web of Science 1945 – to date
Includes Science Citation Index Expanded and Social Sciences Citation Index. One of the most comprehensive databases with indexing to more than 5700 journals. Links to full-text articles when available through USF subscriptions. Updated weekly.
Medline (FirstSearch). 1965-date
Considered the main resource for medical research, this database is produced by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. This resource is useful for articles relating to psychiatry.
After conducting your search, select the articles that look most relevant to your topic. Be sure to write down all of the information that you will need to locate the full-text of the article and to cite it in your research paper.If you prefer, most databases allow you to email the citations and/or the articles to your email account.
The next step is to locate the full-text of the article. This can be accomplished in several ways:
- Use the link if it is available.
- Perform a title search on the title of the journal (not the article title) in the USF online catalog.
- Use the e-journal finder located in the “Electronic Resources” section of the Libraries of the USF System web site.
- Click on the “full-text” link (when available) within the database.
The latest five to ten years of most print journals are available in the periodicals stacks; older volumes may be available on microfiche. The Libraries of the USF System web site (http://www.lib.usf.edu) provides access to an extensive list of electronic journals. Use the USF online catalog or the e-journal locator to determine if the title you need is available in pdf format or if selected articles from a journal may be included within a particular database. Additional titles may be available through interlibrary loan.
Refer to the Ulrich’s International Periodicals Directory database (via the Libraries of the USF System web site) to determine if a journal is refereed (peer reviewed).
The following resources should be useful for locating biographical information about psychologists:
Biographical Dictionary of Psychology. REF BF109.A1Z85 1984.
Provides brief biographical information on individuals who have made a significant contribution to the field of psychology.
Biography Resource Center . Libraries of the USF System
This online resource contains more than 250,000 full-text biographies on individuals from a wide variety of disciplines and occupations.
Finalizing your research
The following resources may be useful as you begin writing your research paper.
How to Prepare a Research Article in APA Style. Shelved in Ready Reference.
This short volume provides examples of well-written introduction, methodology, results, and discussion sections. Appendices have general tips on manuscript preparation and working with reviewers.
Psychologist’s Companion: A Guide to Scientific Writing for Students and Researchers. BF76.8 .S73 1993.
A comprehensive guide to writing a research paper; includes a chapter on commonly misused technical words and a chapter listing standard psychology books and journals with short annotations.
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , 5 th ed. Ready Reference
An essential resource for writing research papers in psychology. This handbook provides detailed instructions on organizing and formatting the paper. Numerous examples are given on how to correctly cite resources.
Remember, if you have difficulty using one of the library resources, talk to a reference librarian.
Help is available in-person, by phone (727-553-4124) or via chat (from the Ask a Librarian link on the Libraries of the USF System web site)!
Prepared by Tina Neville