Using the Library -- Finding Journal Articles Manually -- T. Green
There are many times when you may be requested to develop a set of supportive information to accompany a research proposal or actual research study. Usually this information will make up parts of the Introduction and Discussion of a formal research paper. So let's take a look a the most common ways to locate research literature. Finding the First Article In finding the first article, one of two situations often occurs. In the first, you possess no references (such as a complete APA reference with the author's name, source of publication, date, etc.) that is related to the area of your research interest. In this case, often what you want to do is to find any good literature related to your research topic. To do this you should use the Psychological Abstracts Subject Index. The trick to using this resource is to know what terms (headings) Psychological Abstracts use. Although you may have a subject area in mind such as "the reasons or attributions people give for performance outcomes," you will need to familiarize yourself with the Psychological Abstracts Thesaurus which will help you learn the terms that are used as headings in the Psychological Abstracts. In the case of our example, Psychological Abstracts uses the term Causal Attribution to refer to reasons given for outcomes. In the second situation, you find yourself with the topic area in mind and fortunately you have some sketchy incomplete information about a specific article that should be important to your literature review. For example suppose that you are interested in a topic related to translated material and you know that Triandis published an article in 1972 that had something to do with translated material. However, you don't know if Triandis was the senior author or a junior author. Here you have three important clues to help find this article: an authors name, a year, and the topic of interest. When you have this information, you should use the Psychological Abstracts Author Index. It is important to note that the Abstracts are often one or two years behind. Therefore, in order to find this 1972 article, you would probably start with the 1972 Author Index and continue with the 1973 and 1974 volumes until you find the article. In using either the Subject Index or Author Index, you will find abstract numbers listed next to subject or author information. Your will make note of the abstract numbers for subjects or authors that interest you, and then you will look up the abstract, read it and if you are interested you will further make note of information including full reference information and content of the abstract. Then hopefully you will be able to locate the original article in the library and read it. Organization of the Psychological Abstracts At this point, it is worthwhile to describe how the Psychological Abstracts are put together so that you can use them more efficiently. A paper-bound Psychological Abstracts is published each month, which has three major sections: (1) the Abstracts themselves which are arranged in topical order (each abstract includes the article summary and citation (reference) and each is assigned a number), (2) a Brief Subject Index which uses Thesaurus terms as headings, and gives numbers of the abstracts which belong under each heading, and (3) an Author Index which lists authors included in the volume and abstract numbers associated with each author. These monthly publications are then collected and hard-bound by the library. The 12 issues for a given year may be in 2 to 4 hard-bound volumes. Each of the cumulative yearly volumes also has a Brief Subject Index and an Author Index. These indexes will be located in the front or back of the last hard-bound volume for that year, or in a separate hard-bound volume marked Index. Obviously it is more efficient to look for a given author or term in the index for a full year or six-month period than to look through the Indexes for each separate month. Finding Additional Articles After you have found one article, your search for additional relevant literature has been made much easier. There are two good approaches to finding additional articles once you have the first article in hand. The first approach is to carefully examine the references of that article and find other articles which may be relevant and helpful. Things to look for include: more basic articles which are older and may give a more careful description of the phenomena of interest, previous articles by the same author which may be of particular interest, and review or theory articles which typically reference a large amount of empirical research -- Psychological Review and Psychological Bulletin are two excellent sources for review-type articles. The second approach is to use the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) to find articles, which were published after your first article, that have cited (referenced) your first article. The SSCI allows you to find out who has referenced a particular article during any given year since that particular article was published. To use the SSCI, you must know two things about the particular article (the first article): (1) the author's last name and initials, and (2) the title. There are several volumes for each year of SSCI. For this task you will first use the volume labeled Citation Index. To use the Citation Index you will simply look up the author's name along with the title, and you will find a list of articles during a particular year that have cited (referenced) this first article of yours. You will occasionally have more than one author with the same name which would be a problem if you did not also have the title. Also, the title will help you distinguish between multiple articles a single author may have published in a given year. Once you have found the targeted article in the Citation Index list, you can go to the SSCI Source Index for additional citation information and references. After you have found the first few articles through the above approaches, you can repeat the process over and over again to obtain mare and more articles. That is, now that you are more familiar with the terms used and other authors, you can go back to the Psychological Abstracts Subject and Author Indexes and continue searching. Additionally, you can keep looking at reference lists of each new article and keep using the SSCI Citation Index.