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PSYC02: Scientific Communication in Psychology

A guide to assist UTSC students in this course to find and use library resources needed to successfully complete all assignments.

Workshop FAQs


Q: How do I find the original newspaper article in the original news website?
A: For locating a newspaper article, you can either a) browse through the news website/library archive, or b) search for a topic within the website/library archive. It may be helpful to include terms like 'study' or 'research' in addition to your topic to retrieve results that are reporting on a scientific study. The Popular Media Articles page provides some additional links and instructions for your newspaper article search.


Q: Is there a way to create simplicity of searching?
A: This entirely depends on which tool you're using and how sophisticated their search features are. Search engines like Google/Google Scholar rely on simply entering keywords altogether, but in turn offer less filtering capabilities. Databases like PsycINFO are more complex and require more time to "lay the groundwork" of your search, but save time later on when it comes to filtering and reviewing results for relevant, peer-reviewed articles.

Q: How can the search be as specific as possible to find the needed article?
A: Focus on your search terms and make sure they're specifically addressing the topic you're interested in. This is where it's beneficial to a) break down your topic into distinct concepts, b) brainstorm potential related concepts/synonyms for each of them, c) use index terms within research databases when available (e.g. Subject Headings in PsycINFO), and d) apply Limits for peer-reviewed literature reviews in order to really focus your search, and by extension, your results.

Q: How to choose which database (OVID or ProQuest) to use for my research?
A: Both versions of PsycINFO are exactly the same in terms of content, but the way they look (i.e. their interface) and the way you search them are different - so it's completely up to your personal preference! I'd recommend playing around in both and deciding which interface you like better. The Searching PsycINFO page has step-by-step search guides for both versions if you'd like to review their differences.

Q: If I search my article title in PsycINFO and nothing comes up, what does that mean?
A: It usually means one of two things: 1) There was something in the search string that PsycINFO/OVID didn't "like" or is having trouble interpreting (e.g. symbols like : or ; are common culprits - to get around this, try searching a portion of the title rather than the full thing), or 2) The article is simply not indexed in the PsycINFO database, which usually happens for articles that come from outside the field of psychology.

Q: How can I make finding a review article easy?
A: My best recommendation is to use the "Literature Review" Methodology filter within PsycINFO once you've finished entering your search terms; it's also helpful to combine this with the "Peer-Reviewed Journal" Publication Type and "Journal Article" Document Type filters.

Q: When choosing a literature review article, can you just choose concepts that interest you from the main article? It doesn't necessarily need to connect to each concept in the article?
A: Correct, you aren't required to incorporate every single concept addressed in the main article and can choose which research "direction" is most of interest to you. For example, during our in-class activity, we looked up an article that addressed mindfulness-based therapy for treating depression in college students. We might then decide to find further articles addressing a) mindfulness-based therapy and depression, or b) depression in college students, or c) all of the above! So there is freedom to decide where you want to go with your topic, as long as subsequent articles relate in a meaningful way to the original article. 

Q: Are systematic reviews ok? Or is finding a literature review necessary?
A: Your professor is allowing all types of review articles for this assignment, including literature reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses. So you are welcome to use systematic reviews, just be aware that they typically offer a much greater level of depth and detail than a broader literature review article would.