For two reasons, books and encyclopedias do not often reflect the current status of a specific topic, nor will they indicate the directions in which current research is headed. First, the writing and publishing of a book is a complicated process that can take as many as three years to complete. Second, the type of sources you have looked at so far were written to present the factual and conceptual scope of a broad subject, such as television violence. These sources do not focus on the latest findings in a specific research area, such as the effects of the violence in television news broadcasts on adult behavior.To obtain a perspective on the current status of an area of research and to get the latest information, two types of sources should be used: review serials and research reports. We will deal with review serials here and will cover access to research reports in Chapters 4 and 5.
"To live effectively is to live with adequate information." -- Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings
|1.||Consult Appendix IV of this guide for other general psychology review serials, and also check the appropriate subject sections of this Appendix. For example, the section on abnormal psychology cites seven review serials, including Year Book of Psychiatry and Applied Mental Health. However, since the list in Appendix IV will no doubt be outdated fairly quickly, you will want to try the other methods listed below as well.|
|2.||Consult the card catalog of your library under the broad subject heading into which your topic fits and look for the subdivisions "Periodicals" and "Annuals." This can be a tricky matter and usually requires searching under more headings than you would initially think to check. For example, while "psychology is the obvious heading for your topic, other possible subjects are "psychiatry," and even "sociology," since there may be review serials in those areas which contain relevant articles. Another problem with using the card catalog is that some libraries don't list periodicals in the card catalog.|
|3.||Ask your librarian or professor to suggest possible review serials.|
Once you have identified the appropriate title(s), you will need to determine whether your library has them. You may have to check the card catalog and/or a periodicals list or a serials catalog. In any case you will search under the title of the serial, and by all means ask the librarian for help if you need it. Look at the section of Appendix IV which lists the review serials in psychology. Once you have determined that your library has them and where they are shelved, you can consult them for articles. Remember, you are only interested in the material that is more current than the sources you have already consulted. Because it often takes as long as two or three years to get a book published, you should begin your search with issues of review serials published two or three years before publication of the recent relevant texts you used. In this case, the most useful sources are Feshbach ( 1971), the Surgeon General's Report ( 1971) and Howitt ( 1975). Therefore, you should confine your search to the period 1970 to the present.
The Annual Review of Psychology ( Stanford, CA: Annual Reviews, 1950- ) is an excellent source for most