Library Research Guide to Psychology: Illustrated Search Strategy and Sources

By Nancy E. Douglas; Nathan E. Baum | Go to book overview

7 Using Guides to the Literature of Psychology

"Knowledge is of two kinds: we know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it."

-- Samuel Johnson, quoted in Boswell Life of Johnson


Why Use a Guide?
This book is a selective guide to the basic reference sources in psychology and therefore may not answer all your questions. Appendix IV of this book lists some other reference materials related to specific undergraduate courses in psychology, but you may need a more comprehensive guide in order to find specialized reference sources useful for your topic. Guides, which may select "best books" in the literature of a subject or serve as comprehensive lists of reference sources, can lead to materials in your library and can also point to the existence of materials not in your library collection. Reference librarians rely heavily on these guides and lists, and if finding enough materials is a problem, use of the guides may be the solution. The main difficulty with comprehensive guides is in selecting the few important sources from the many that are cited. Unfortunately, another major problem in psychology is that the two standard guides, listed below, were published back in 1971 and 1973. Even so, they are the best available and still useful. Be sure to consult your reference librarian for the newest editions or more current guides.
How to Use a Guide in Psychology
One useful comprehensive guide to reference sources in psychology is J. E. Bell A Guide to Library Research in Psychology ( Dubuque, Iowa: Wm. C. Brown, 1971). However, its most valuable feature is not the reference sources but the section on literature sources in major subject areas of interest to psychology students, including abnormal, social, experimental, educational, industrial, and applied psychology, and some fields related to psychology. For each field there are extensive lists of journal titles and basic texts. Although there is no index, the book has a good, detailed table of contents. FIGURE 7.1 shows how to use the Table of Contents to find basic readings in industrial psychology.Another useful guide to the literature of psychology is C. M. White Sources of Information in the Social Sciences: A Guide to the Literature, 2d ed. ( Chicago: American Library Association, 1973) which has information on all of the social sciences, with a major section devoted to psychology. In the psychology section, the sources are arranged by type (such as encyclopedias, reviews, tests) and by major subject areas, and each source listed includes a detailed description. The subject, author, and title indexes make this book particularly useful in helping you find works in other social science areas which may be related to your topic (FIGURE 7.2).
How to Use General Reference Sources
The most comprehensive bibliographies of reference sources in English are A. J. Walford, Guide to Reference Material, 4th ed. ( London: The Library Association, ( 1980-) and Eugene P. Sheehy, Guide to Reference Books, 9th ed. ( Chicago: American Library Association, 1976), Supplement, 1980. Volume 2 of Walford has a section on psychology, and Sheehy has six pages. These two guides provide less depth of coverage in the field of psychology than White and Bell, but can be used if the others are not available in your library. They are also excellent in helping you find books in related fields. FIGURE 7.3 shows how the 1980 Supplement to Sheehy's work can be used to update the list of sources in Bell. (Note: The last item shown in FIGURE 7.3 is the American Psychological Association Publication Manual, which is also listed in Appendix iv with other "Handbooks for Writing Psychology Papers." The Publication Manual demonstrates the correct way to prepare psychology research reports for publication in periodicals; this is often the style preferred by psychology professors for term papers, as well.)
Summary
1. Guides to the literature of psychology may help you locate more specialized materials.
2. Comprehensive guides to the literature of the social sciences or to reference books in general may help you locate materials in related fields.
3. See also Appendix IV.
4. Your reference librarian can help you find revised editions or new guides to areas of research.

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