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Illinois Tech Library Guides

Psychology

Use this guide to find resources in industrial/organizational psychology, rehabilitation psychology, and clinical psychology, plus course-specific information.

Finding inspiration and background information

Theoretical articles

A theoretical article is one that discusses overall theories - it usually does not contain original controlled research, unlike empirical articles. An original theory article will likely have many citations to it and may keep coming up in other articles that you read about the topic. These words within the title/abstract can also indicate that you are reading a theoretical article:

  • Framework
  • Paradigm
  • Challenges
  • Policies

In addition to searching for articles, use the book chapters and articles cited in the syllabus as helpful jumping-off points.

Empirical articles

Pro tip:

Search more than one EBSCO-interfaced database by clicking on Choose Databases and selecting the databases you wish to search. Note that this method works only with keyword searching, and it will also disallow you to see the Cited References.

About empirical articles

Unlike theoretical articles, empirical articles study very specific populations and issues. You'll also notice specific results and conclusions in the articles.

Use known articles as jumping-off points

If you have already found an on-point article, use that to get to more relevant articles:

  1. "look forward" by finding articles that cited to that article (in Google Scholar)
  2. "look backward" by looking at that article's References page - could be especially useful to help find theoretical articles, too
  3. use hyperlinked subject terms within the article

Running new searches

Search for concepts using different boxes

Use the work you did in the first part of your worksheet to come up with a concept box:

SDOH  food deserts
Health outcome   obesity
population  children

 

Search for these concepts using different boxes, like this:

For this search, I retrieved only 26 results, but they are very relevant to my topic.

Why not put everything in one box?

Library databases work differently from Google. If you put all your concepts together in one box, the database will search for that as a phrase instead of distinct concepts that overlap. By separating the different searches with AND, we're actually retrieving articles that discuss intersection of all concepts:

Do I need to use quotation marks? Do I need to choose a "field?"

By leaving quotation marks off, the database will automatically search for slight variants of the word, such as plurals or alternate spellings. However, if your concept is very specific, you might consider using quotes. By leaving the option to All Fields, the database will search in the title, subject terms, keywords, and author fields.

 

Expanding your search

Using the "OR" operator with more keywords

By adding more keywords for the same concept within the boxes, the results will grow

SDOH  food desert OR food access 
Health outcome   obesity OR overweight OR BMI
population 

 children OR youth

The basic effect is making the three "bubbles" of the original search larger, which then makes the overlapping section larger:

Adding "subject terms"

Subject terms, also sometimes called "index terms" or a "controlled vocabulary," are very useful because they replace some of the need to brainstorm every possible keyword that could have been used to describe your topic. They are also more specific than keywords - for example, if you use "Amazon" as a keyword, it is unclear if you mean the Amazon rainforest or Amazon the company. Using the designated subject term eliminates this issue.

Subject terms are assigned to articles to reflect the articles' main topics. However, they are not always applied to every single article, so the best practice is to use them in conjunction with keywords.

Locating subject terms in the database

1. To browse for subject terms, look in the Subject Terms heading (also sometimes called the Thesaurus) in the blue bar near the top of the screen.

2. Switch the radio button to "Term Contains," type in your concept, and click Browse. You can then click on the blue link for a subject term that looks relevant.

3. Check the "Scope Note" to learn how that subject term is applied in the database to make sure it is the term you intend. You can also find broader and narrower terms, which might be more appropriate for your search. Select the terms you'd like and click the Add button.

4. The database will place the term(s) in the search box. You can then copy and paste this as-is, and add to your concept box, separated by "or" with the other terms. When using subject terms, you must keep the quotation marks (unlike for keywords, where it's okay to leave quotation marks off). Also keep the DE segment - this is how the database knows to search within the subject term field.

 

Intervention articles

To search for articles describing an intervention, use a similar strategy to the above, but you might want to reduce the number of concepts you are looking for. You can also try adding the keyword "intervention" but know that many articles won't use that specific term.

Chicago link & other data

APA Style

For more help with APA style, see the APA Style master page above. The slides below address in-text citations and the References page.