Library Research Guide to Psychology: Illustrated Search Strategy and Sources

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

APENDIX V
GUIDELINES FOR PROCEEDING
This brief summary is designed to help you check your progress as you work on a research paper. It will be most useful to you if you have completely read this book and now just need a few quick reminders on the process before starting your latest research paper.
1. Choose a topic that interests you. (Chapter 1)

Use specialized encyclopedias from Chapter 1 or Appendix IV to find an overview of your topic and narrow the focus of your paper. Encyclopedias also usually include short bibliographies you can pursue in the card catalog.

2. Check the card catalog for books. (Chapter 2)

Use Library of Congress Subject Headings first, taking advantage of the "see" and "see also" references to zero in on the most useful headings; also look up the books from the encyclopedia bibliographies and you may be able to use subject headings printed on their cards. Try to use the information on the catalog card to help you determine which books to look for on the shelves.

3. Use review serials for an overview of more current research. (Chapter 3)

Choose an appropriate review serial with the help of Chapter 3, Appendix V, or your reference librarian.

4. Start reading the published research reports on your topic, finding the reports through an indexing or abstracting service especially Social Sciences Index and Psychological, Abstracts. (Chapter 4)

Use Chapter 4 to determine which index or abstract service is most likely to cover your topic, but remember that you'll get the best results by checking more than one. In Appendix IV there are lists of more specialized indexes and abstracts, and your reference librarian can help you find others. If your time is short or your topic is complex, you may want to try a computerized literature search.

5. After you've studied some research reports, you may want to pursue prominent researchers through name indexes. (Chapter 5)

Social Sciences Citation Index has the most comprehensive approach to names. It also contains information on who cited an author's work, which will lead you to still more research.

6. To find the very latest published research, use Current Contents. (Chapter 6)

Current Contents not only prints the contents pages of periodicals, but also gives an author and subject approach before the periodicals reach the regular indexing services.

7. You may need to use other, more selective guides to the literature in specific areas of psychology. Chapter 7 explains a few guides, and more are listed in Appendix IV or can be recommended by your reference librarian.
8. For medical and psychiatric topics, Index Medicus is valuable (Appendix II)
9. United States government documents contain an amazing amount of valuable research in psychology. They may be located in a special part of your library and may not show up in the card catalog. Appendix III explains how to use government documents, and your reference librarian can help you find them in your library.
10. If your library does not have all the materials you need, there are alternatives. (Chapter 8)

Often you can visit other libraries to use materials, though you usually cannot check them out. In some cases, the library can borrow materials for you through interlibrary loan, or you can have some pages photocopied. Chapter 8 and your reference librarian can help you with details.

11. For help in the style and format of actually writing your paper, look at the "Handbooks for writing psychology papers' section in Appendix IV, or ask your professor or reference librarian.

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