Tips for locating recent, peer-reviewed articles in Psychology
If you are using a computer on campus, simply go to: http://www.nelson.usf.edu
Remote use of the library databases is limited to current USFSP or USF students and faculty. If you are off-campus, you must first logon to Blackboard. Instead of going to your courses, click on the “USF Libraries” tab (far right side of screen), then select the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library link.
Access the literature of your discipline:
Although the scholarly literature in psychology can cross over into other disciplines (medicine, education, sociology, etc), PsycINFO is considered the primary index to scholarly psychological literature. This resource indexes articles in more than 1,300 journals as well as relevant books, book chapters, and dissertations.
To access PscyINFO, go to the library web site, click on the “Articles” tab, then click on the “Go to Subject List” button. At the next screen, click on the “by Title” tab and type: PsycINFO into the search box. Click on PsycINFO (Ebsco) to access the database.
Consider the best search strategy:
Begin with the online thesaurus (the link to the thesaurus is in the green bar near the top of the screen) Browse the thesaurus for the best subject heading(s). Check for broader, narrower, or related topics that might also be useful for your research.
Only search for the main concepts of your topic. Most library databases search for every word entered so entering too many extraneous words can limit your search unnecessarily. If your search is too broad and retrieves too many citations, add an additional keyword.
Conduct a focused search in PsycINFO:
- Go back to the Advanced Search screen and select a "subjects" search from the pull-down menus. Enter the subject or subjects that you located in the thesaurus into the search boxes.
- Use the built-in limits to your advantage:
- In the limit fields below the search screen, check off "peer-reviewed."
- Consider selecting a methodology (such as "treatment outcome study" or "literature review")
- Limit your search to current dates (Publication year 2010 to 2012).
- Consider other options such as language, population group (human, male, female, etc.), age group (infancy, adolescence, aged, etc)
- If you find articles that look relevant, look at the subject tags that have been assigned to the article. These may provide you with additional ways to narrow or expand your search.
- Use the truncation symbol (*) to search for any variant of a word: observ* (searches for observe, observed, observation, etc)
- Use the “detailed record” link in PsycINFO for a quick look at the abstract, age groups, measures, etc. used in the article
- Note any “Cited References” or “Times Cited in this Database” links as these may lead to related articles.
4 ways to locate the full text of the article:
- Click on the “full-text” link (when available) within the database.
- Use the link.
- Perform a title search on the title of the journal (not the article title) in the USF library catalog.
- Use the e-journal finder located in the “E-Journals” tab of the library web site.
Evaluate the article for relevancy:
- Once you locate a possible article, skim the full text to check for relevancy.
- In your first pass, pay particular attention to the abstract, the methodology, and the conclusions. If those sections look useful, read the article in greater detail.
Reviewed and revised
by Tina Neville
30 April 2012