Transcript - Introduction to Psychology Library Research - March 2021

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Introduction to Psychology Library Research

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Welcome everyone to our webinar on Psychology Research in the Walden Library. This webinar is for students who are new to Walden or need a Library refresher. If that sounds like you, you’re in the right place.

Let’s get started with an overview of what we’ll be covering in this session. Since we won’t be able to cover everything the Library has to offer, we’ll be focusing on what you need to know to get started.

First, we’ll go through some important Library research concepts you should be aware of. Then we’ll cover some basics in navigating the Walden Library. Then we’ll focus on finding articles for discussions and assignments. Followed by other common research tasks you’ll encounter in your first few courses, including finding articles by methodology, finding specific articles, and verifying a journal is peer reviewed. And lastly, we’ll wrap up with where to get help.

If you would like to navigate directly to any of these particular sections, look for the table of contents in the top left of the video player. Make sure to also download the PowerPoint for more detailed information on the topics we cover in this webinar. Let’s get started by going over some common library terminology we’ll be using in this session and that you’ll be seeing in your courses.

First things first: What are you going to find in the Walden Library? The answer: everything you would find in a physical library: journals, books, encyclopedias & handbooks, videos, magazines, and even newspapers.

Because we’re an academic Library, most of our resources are scholarly and academic and not what you would find in your public library or bookstore. What is unique about the Walden Library is that everything is electronic, which we’ll talk about in more detail because this will influence how you search for and access all of our materials.

A few other things to know: Everything we have is free to students. Even better, we don’t have due dates or late fees.

Something to keep in mind is that the Library pays for access to these materials, so you won’t find most of what we have for free online. You may come across some free articles and book chapters, but the majority of it is going to be fee-based.

Whatever you do, don’t pay for anything online. Search the Library first and then reach out to us if you can’t find what you’re looking for. You don’t want to find out later that you paid for something that was available for free in the Library.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the “everything’s electronic” part. Because of this, you won’t find our materials on bookshelves. Where you will find them is in databases. Think of a database as an electronic bookshelf. It’s basically a collection of similar materials often focused on a particular subject area. The difference is that you can search our databases at midnight, in your pajamas, sitting on your couch. Basically, we don’t have to be here for you to be able to use the Library.

We have all kinds of databases, book databases, video databases, and, what we’ll be focusing on shortly, journal databases. For example, we have a database called PsycInfo that has psychology journals; a database called Education Source that has education journals, and a database called Criminal Justice Database that has, well, you probably guessed, criminal justice journals.

As you start searching in the Library, you’ll notice that many of our databases have an Ebsco logo, some have a ProQuest logo, and then there’s a few miscellaneous ones. These are the companies that we license our databases from.

As you start searching in the Library, you’ll see that Ebsco databases all have a similar search interface and the same is true for our ProQuest databases.

Even though they look the same, remember, there’s different content in each. For example, PsycInfo and Education Source, are both Ebsco databases, however, they search much different content: psychology journals vs. education journals.

In a little bit we’ll talk about a search tool called Thoreau that searches all of our databases at once.

One last item to cover before we jump over to the Library: scholarly information.

This is a big umbrella term that means any publication meant for an academic audience. It can come in a variety of formats including journals, books, encyclopedias, videos, and you’ll mostly find them in academic libraries.

Peer reviewed journals are a type of scholarly publication. Articles from these journals go through a special review process where they’re evaluated by experts in that field. They might report on original research which we call empirical research, or they might summarize other research which includes literature reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses. These types of journals are found in electronic databases that again are mostly available in academic libraries.

Lastly, it’s important to know if you’re looking at a primary source or a secondary source. A primary source is where the author presents their own research, theory, ideas, or experience. A secondary source analyzes and discusses someone else’s research.

When you’re working on assignments and discussions, you’ll most often be asked to use peer reviewed articles. Always make sure to understand what you’re being asked for.

Now let’s hop over to the Library and take a look around.

The quickest way to get to the Walden Library is through our web address but you’ll also find links to the Library in your student portal and Blackboard classrooms.

As I mentioned earlier, for much of your coursework you’ll be searching peer reviewed journals. There’s two basic ways to do this in the Library. The Thoreau search box at the top of the page  and the Research by Subject button.

Thoreau searches most of our databases at the same time. We’re going to come back to this in a little bit.

Right now, let’s focus on Research by Subject. This button is where you’ll find databases organized by subject area. For example, you can search just Business, just Criminal Justice, only Education, or any of the other subjects listed.

All of these pages are set up the same so you can easily navigate between them. Let’s head over to the Psychology Research Page since you’ll be spending much of your time there.

All the research pages are split into two sections. The top section includes physical items you can use such as journal databases, test and instrument databases, videos, and books.

The bottom part of the page includes how-to guides that walk you through different types of research such as how to do a literature review, find tests and measures, research theories, or find statistics.

Since we want to search psychology journal databases, we’ll go back to the top and click on the first drop-down menu. You’ll see our most popular psychology databases listed here,  and more are available using this link at the bottom.

As a psychology student, PsycInfo, our main psychology database, will be one of your go-to databases.

Now that we’ve talked about where to search, let’s talk about how to search.

These eight steps will guide you through a search from beginning to end.

Searching databases is a process of trying a search, reviewing your results, modifying your search, then trying another search. Just like you need to revise a paper to get the best result, the same is true for searching databases. Your first search is typically not going to be your best and the same is true for us librarians as well. So, don’t give up after your first search if you don’t get perfect results.

Let’s take a look at how this works in practice.

For Step 1 we’ll list the main ideas of our topic and brainstorm any synonyms we can think of since different researchers are likely to use different terms.

Let’s imagine this is a prompt in one of your classes.

Choose a current topic in psychology and discuss its effects on a specific population. What programs are being used to address this issue? Use the scholarly literature to support your response.

We’ll choose a current topic: drug abuse, and a specific population: high school students, and list we’ll list program here as well. Then we’ll list all of our synonyms: substance abuse and drug addiction AND secondary school students (a term used in many countries outside the United States), teenagers, and adolescents, AND intervention and treatment.

Let’s head over to the Library for Step 2 and choose a database to search.

 Since our topic is about Psychology, we’re going to go to the Psychology Research Page by clicking on Research by Subject then Psychology. We’ll click the Psychology databases drop-down menu and select PsycInfo our main psychology database.

Now we’re on the landing page of the PsycInfo database where we can set up our search.  

For Step 3 we’ll enter one idea or concept into each search box. We’ll put drug abuse in the first and high school students in the second.

For Step 4 we’ll add in our synonyms for drug abuse separated by OR. For the moment, we’ll stick to just high school students.

We’ll talk about what these search boxes mean in more detail on the results page.

For Step 5 we’ll limit our search. Those options are further down the page. You’ll see there are a lot of options to click, but again, let’s focus on what you need to get started, which are only three limiters:

  • we’ll make sure full text is checked so we can read all the articles in our results list
  • we’ll check peer review so we know all our results are from peer reviewed journals
  • and lastly, we’ll enter 2016 into the first search box under Publication Date so all the articles in our results will be from the last 5 years. This is important since our prompt asked us for current literature.

Now we’re ready to click Search which brings us to Step 6.

For Step 6 we’ll review our results. You’ll see there’s a lot going on here as well, so again, let’s focus on the important stuff.

Let’s look more closely at our search. The database looks for the terms or phrases in each of the search boxes. That’s what the AND on the left means. You’ll rarely if ever have to change this, so we won’t go into much detail about the other options.

The OR inside a search box, tells the database to look for any of those terms or phrases.

So this search means, find me articles about either drug abuse OR substance abuse OR drug addiction AND that are also about high school students.

If we look at the menu on the left, you’ll see our results will also be full text, peer reviewed, and published in the last 5 years. You can also select these here if you forget to select them on the main search page.

In the results list you’ll see the article title, publication information, and subject terms. The subjects are the article’s main ideas. To read the abstract you can click on the article title or you can hover over the magnifying glass on the right.

These four places – the article title, publication information, subjects, and abstract – are where the database searches for the terms in your search boxes. It doesn’t search the full text of the article.  

A well-structured search might have anywhere from a few dozen articles to a few hundred. You can see we have a good amount of results here, so not bad for our first try.

Let’s assume we found a few articles for our assignment. For Step 7, we’ll get the full text. 

One way to get the full text is by clicking the PDF or HTML link. You can see the first article in our results has a PDF link.

The other way to access full text is through the Find @ Walden button. This button means the full text of the article “lives” in another database. Find @ Walden links you to that other database.

There are a few things that can happen when using the Find @ Walden button. Ideally, it will bring you directly to the full text article. It may also bring you to a list of databases where the full text is available. Let’s find an article that does this. Let’s try this article.

If we click on any of these databases, we should be brought to the full text as well.

Because the Find @ Walden button has to interface with almost 100 databases with different functionality, there are times it doesn’t always work. When this happens and you’re working on coursework, it may be easiest to choose another article. For dissertation research, always reach out to us.

Lastly, is Step 8: evaluate, modify, experiment, and iterate! Remember, your first search is typically not your best, so let’s experiment a little bit.

Let’s narrow our search to a specific drug. From reviewing the subjects in our results list, we can quickly see a theme of prescription drug abuse. Let’s add that to our search. We’ll update our results by clicking search.

This limited our results numbers a good amount. Let’s assume we look through the results and don’t find enough information for our assignment. We can broaden our search and increase our results by adding in our other synonyms for high school students and giving the database more terms to look for.

You’ll see I used an asterisk at the root of teen and adolescent. That tells the database to search for all the variations of these words. Let’s update our search.

Now we have a good set of results. Remember from our prompt we need to find information on programs. So we’ll add in another search box by clicking the plus sign to the right of the last search box. Here’s we’ll enter programs and all our synonyms and update our search. This looks like a good results list to work with.

There are a few more advanced search techniques that are listed in the PowerPoint. We’re not going to cover those since we’re focusing on the basics, but you can experiment with them later on if you’d like.

Lastly, let’s take a look at Thoreau. Remember, Thoreau searches most of the Library databases as the same time which means it searches all the indivudal subject specific databases under Research by Subject.

When using Thoreau, best practice is to click the Advanced Search link under the main search box because you’ll likely be searching more than one concept and you’ll need a search box for each.

Let’s set up the same search we did in PsycInfo and look at the differences.

You can see we have over 400 results compared to just over 100 results in PsycInfo.

So it’s quite possible we could have started our search in Thoreau and found what we’re looking for. You would have had to browse through more results, and since they’re coming from other disciplines like education, criminal justice, and the health sciences, for example, you may have encountered a lot more off-topic results that if you were to just search PsycInfo.

As I scroll through my list, I can see a lot of my results are from education databases. I can see all the databases my results are coming from by scrolling to the  bottom of the blue menu on the left and clicking the Databases drop down menu. So in this way, Thoreau can be a good discovery tool because it does search across multiple disciplines and I you discover something serendipitously.

Now that we have the basics of database searching down, let’s talk about a few other research tasks you’ll encounter in your coursework. 

You’ll often need to find articles that use a specific type of methodology.

To do this, we’re going to add the type of methodology we’re looking for into one of the search boxes.

Keep in mind that the database searches the article title, publication information, subjects, and abstract. The methodology may not be mentioned in any of these places, so this is an imperfect search as best.

Let’s search for qualitative articles. We’ll add another search box by clicking the plus sign here on the right, and we’ll enter the term qualitative and all the specific types of qualitative methodology we can think of. [annotation]

We now have a significantly less amount of results but that mention this type of methodology. To ensure an article actually uses that type of methodology, make sure to review the methods section closely.

Another research task you’ll need to know how to do is to see if an article is available in the Library in full text.

Let’s assume in this article’s literature review we find another interesting article we want to read. To see if the Library has it in full text, we’ll need to head back to the Library homepage.

We’ll search the title of the article we’re interested in finding using the Thoreau search box. Remember, Thoreau searches most of the Library’s databases at the same time.

You’ll see your article is the only one in the results list, and you can access the full text by clicking on the Find @ Walden button. 

Now that we have the full text article, we need to verify if it is from a peer reviewed journal. To do that, we’ll search the journal title in a database called Ulrich’s. Let’s go back to the Library homepage. Click on Start Your Research in the top menu bar and select Verify Peer Review on the left.

Ulrich’s is a database of information about journals. It doesn’t have actual journal articles in it. We’ll enter the journal title in the search box. In our results list, we can see the journal listed. Don’t worry so much if it has multiple entries. What we’re looking for is a little referee jacket next to the journal. Refereed is another way to indicate peer review, so we can see this journal is in fact peer reviewed.

Now that you’re ready to start using the Library for your coursework, let’s talk about how to reach out for help if you get stuck.

When all else fails, Ask a Librarian. Look for that button at the top right of all our webpages and in the databases. This is pretty much one stop shopping for all the ways we can help support you with your Library research.

On the Ask a Librarian page you’ll see Quick Answers on the right. This is where you can search frequently asked questions and is a great place to go when you need an answer fast. For example, we didn’t talk about DOIs. If you type DOI into the search box, you’ll find answers to questions such as what is a DOI, how to find a DOI, or how to cite an article with or without a DOI.

On the left side of the page are all the ways you can get one-on-one help.

You can email us your question. We answer emails 7-days a week. Our turnaround time is 24 hours, but you’ll often get an answer the same day depending on when you email us. Email is best for more in-depth questions when you don’t need an immediate answer.

For less complex questions, you can chat with us if we’re online. The best questions for chat include how to do a search in a Library database for an assignment or discussion or to maybe ask if we have the full text of an article you’re looking for.

Lastly, are Doctoral Research Appointments, and as the name suggests, these are available for doctoral students who are working on dissertation research. As you move further along in you program and begin working on dissertation, remember this is another option available to you to get one-on-one help.

That wraps it up for this session. Keep an eye out for future webinars including how to research theories, identifying a gap, the literature review for dissertation, and researching tests and measures.


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