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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 PowerPoint

Workshop FAQs


Q: How to search for a newspaper article on a particular topic?
A: The Library's newspaper archives typically provide greater search capabilities than the public websites. Try searching the newspaper in the Library Catalogue and navigate to one of the [electronic resource] links; from there, check to see if the newspaper has a "search within this publication" option where you can look up articles on your particular topic (e.g. parenting study).

Q: How would you know the exact article to look for if the newspaper article doesn't mention authors or date of the study?
A: Look for as many clues in the text as you can. Other hints might include the funding agency, institution affiliation (e.g. a university name), study details such as sample size, direct quotes in the text, etc.


Q: What is the use of using "OR" in a search?
A: "OR" is used to combine synonyms or related concepts in a search. It will broaden your search to pull in articles which use different terminology around a shared concept (e.g. happiness OR well being OR life satisfaction).

Q: Is there an easier way to search PsycINFO? There were a lot of steps to find articles.
A: There's certainly more work required to set up a good search, but I would argue that the pay-off at the end will save you a lot of time and energy when you actually have to weed through the results. You might try comparing the ProQuest vs. OVID versions of PsycINFO to see which you prefer (comparisons are available on the "Searching PsycINFO" page).

Q: What are the advantages of OVID vs. ProQuest?
A: From my personal experience, OVID offers better mapping to index terms/subject headings, has more advanced search/export features, and it tends to be less "glitchy" (e.g. I've had it happen where the explode/focus features in ProQuest disappear from the interface, I've been booted out of ProQuest while performing PsycINFO searches, etc.). This preference is completely subjective though, so don't feel obligated to use OVID if you like the ProQuest interface better!

Q: How to search for literature using other databases?
A: Many of the principles used for searching PsycINFO are transferable to other resources, which can be found on the "Other Databases" page. To learn specifics, we can schedule a meeting to review the database(s) or you can stop by the Information and Reference Desk in the Library.

Q: Which databases are most efficient?
A: It completely depends on your topic! Different databases are suited to different purposes; while there is some overlap between content, they also have unique information that can't be found elsewhere. Check out the "Other Databases" page for some examples or look through the Library's A-Z list for different subject areas.

Q: Are these databases limited to journal articles? (i.e. how does locating other sources such as books work?)
A: Databases contain a variety of sources beyond journal articles, such as book chapters, conference proceedings, dissertations, etc. If you're specifically interested in looking for books, journals, and other media, the Library Catalogue is a good place to start.

Selecting/Reviewing Articles

Q: What is the best way to choose the first empirical article to build off of? What if it's a fairly new research topic?
A: Try to find a topic that's of interest to you! Literature searching is much more fun when it's on a topic you feel invested in. You can also use some of the critical analysis questions included in the PowerPoint presentation to scan for "good quality" articles. Newer topics can be challenging if there's not much published in the literature yet. Try "OR-ing" synonyms/related concepts into your search to increase the number of results retrieved, or consider broadening your research topic in general to get more hits.

Q: How do you limit confusion when lots of information is coming your way? How do I overcome the challenge of reading through it all/is there a certain number of results I should aim for?
A: Start by narrowing down the number of results you're getting first, if possible. For example, about 100 results is a good number to aim for when searching in databases like PsycINFO. Use subject headings to search for key terms and combine these with limits such as empirical articles and peer-reviewed journals to help weed out irrelevant results. From there, scan the title and/or abstract of results and select any relevant studies to read in-depth.

Q: What is the most efficient way to find relevant/closely related articles? How do I think critically about a journal article?
A: Skim your list of results starting with article titles and abstracts to identify potentially relevant papers. Then read through the full-text of selected studies and compare key sections against each other (the Introduction, Methods, and Results sections are particularly useful here). The PowerPoint at the top of this page includes some critical analysis questions you can ask yourself as you read through to compare studies.

Q: How do I review with the intention of writing an Introduction for an article?
A: The Writing Centre is a great resource for this! I'd recommend following the steps listed in the question above as a first step and then either visiting the Writing Centre or reviewing their materials on writing literature reviews for advice on moving forward with writing your paper.

Q: What do I do if I can't find the full text of an article?
A: Check out the "Locating Article Full Text" page for some tips, feel free to email me for assistance, or stop by the Information and Reference Desk in the Library. If UofT doesn't have the article, we can request it free of charge from another library.