Answers to Your Questions

Here are the answers to most of the questions you wrote down in class. I combined some of the similar questions. More questions? Remember, you can always ask a librarian!

The most commonly asked question was the following one:
Q: How can I tell the difference between a literature review and a research paper?

General characteristics of a literature review

  • Broad topic - attempts to address the entire body of knowledge on any given topic
  • Authors are writing about research others have done, not their own research
  • Summarizes, reviews existing data

General characteristics of a research paper

  • More specific topic - really asks one or two questions only
  • Authors are writing about research they have actually done
  • Produces new data

A key factor that can help you distinguish a lit review from a research paper will be in the "methods" section of the paper - and all research papers will have a methods section. The methods section in a research paper will tell you how the authors set up their study and who their research subject is. If a literature review has a methods section, on the other hand, it will tell how the researchers went about gathering the different studies they are writing about. Once you've seen a few of these, the difference is striking.

It may help to see some examples.

Here is a method from a literature review: "Electronic publication databases were searched for literature relevant to the review. Additionally, individual references were examined to elicit further studies not found by online search" (Verma & Howard, 2012). *

Here is a method from a research article on the same topic: "The study was conducted on 22 subjects aged between 60 and 80 years old...Three experimental tasks related to semantic network were administered to all participants" (Passafiume, et al., 2012). **

With the research example, the authors have recruited a group of subjects and are going to test them on their semantic memory. They have posed a question and are going to do a study and produce new data to answer it. 

If you have an article, and you really can't tell if it's a research article or not, you can always ask your instructor or a librarian.

Q: Are there other resources available that are for peer review articles that don't charge money if I can't find what I'm looking for at Barber Library?
Q: What other types of search tools can I use?

A: I only showed you two of the Library's resources in class. We have many more resources that you can use to find peer reviewed articles besides PsycINFO and Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection. Some of these are Academic Search Premier, JSTOR, Project Muse, Academic One File, MEDLINE, and Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition. Even better, you can request any article - no matter how you originally find it - via Interlibrary Loan. If you're having trouble finding articles, ask a librarian for help. 

Q: Will ILL articles be sent to any email?
A: For ILL, we do ask that you use your COCC email. Our past experience shows that this works best for contacting you and sending you attachments.

Q: Are there any cases where ILL can't get the article I need?
A: Occasionally. We list a few reasons we sometimes can't get articles on our ILL FAQs page. If we can't get something for you, we'll email you to let you know.

Q: What is the longest time before an ILL article is emailed?
A: The average time is 1-4 days. And, those are business days, so weekends and holidays will add time. Occasionally, it takes longer than 4 business days to get an article, but it's very rare.

Q: How do we order full text online?
A: Just click on the "Check for full text" link you see in our Library resources. On the next screen, click on the link that says, "Request from Interlibrary Loan." If you've never requested anything before, you have to enter your name, ID number and a couple of other things. In that case, enter all that information, then go back to the "Check for full text" link and click it again, and click on "Request from Interlibrary Loan" again. It's a little confusing the first time you do it because of the registration step. The next time you do it, you just have to log in and you'll go straight to your request. If you have any questions, ask us at the Library. 

Q: If I need more help after today, is there a way to get it?
A: Definitely! The Library has an information desk that is staffed 7 days a week during our open hours. You can also call us, email us, or chat with us. Visit our Ask a Librarian web page for all the details. You are also more than welcome to contact Michele directly.

Q: Will these articles be usable for other classes?
A: Definitely. You can use any of the Library resources for any of your classes. 

Q: Is this as good as Google Scholar?
A: It's much better. Using Library search tools, you're going to find more full-text than you would on Google Scholar. If you use the tips and techniques for searching that I told you about in class, you will find that searching is more efficient and results in more relevant results. This is for a variety of technical reasons. Finally, Google Scholar isn't transparent about what content you're searching or how their searching works. With the Library resources, you know exactly what you're searching and how it works. 

Q: Can I use Academic Search Premier at home or does it have to be used on campus?
Q: Will this all be the same on my home computer?

A: You can use Academic Search Premier or any of the other Library resources at home - or anywhere you have an Internet connection. If you're not on campus, it'll just ask you for your last name and your ID number. That's the only difference.

Q: If full text is not available, how can you search text for your keywords?
A: That's a great question. In many cases, the system is searching the article title, a summary of the article (called the abstract), and the subject descriptions for that article. Even if the full text is available, articles where your search term appears in the title, abstract, and subject descriptions will usually be ranked more highly in your search results than if the term just appears in the full text. So, it's actually not necessary for the system to access the full-text to make a good guess if that article's a relevant result for your search. Sometimes, too, it may be that the system can search the full-text but it doesn't have permission from the journal publisher to make the full-text publicly available. 

Q: How do you find article specifically on your topic, not the broad topic?
Q: How do I narrow my search even more so I can get the exact article I want?
Q: How general can your searches be?
Q: How do I find articles on a specific topic in my literature review?
Q: How do I pick a good article that relates well to my original article? 
Q: What specific words should I use to find a research paper for my search topic?

A: One suggestion is to focus on one part of the literature review that interested you. If, for example, your literature review was on the broad topic of personality and motivation, maybe there was a part of the literature review that reported on studies about social networks and motivation. If that interests you, you might select "social networks" as a way to narrow your broader search of the literature pertaining to personality and motivation. You can also select a particular population to help you narrow your topic, like children or toddlers or teenagers, etc. You will probably have to do a few searches to get your search narrow enough to have a workable set of results. If you are really having trouble with this, ask a librarian. We can help you with working on your search terms. 

Q: How do I know what kinds of articles are reliable sources to use for my schooling?
A: The Library resources we provide access to are specifically designed to provide you access to some of the most reliable sources out there. There are a few ways you can assess an article for credibility for your school work. A couple of the most important factors are who wrote the article and how it was published. Who wrote it matters because you want to make sure you're getting information from an authoritative source. Most of the authors of journal articles, such as those you find in the Library's resources, are written by experts - researchers and professors. If you just find an article on the web, you really have to be careful about who wrote it. How it was published matters because there is a specific kind of academic published called "peer review." Using this method, an article is reviewed by several experts in the field before it's published. These other experts look for things like making sure the author followed important professional standards in carrying out his or her research. A lot of your academic assignments will require you to use peer-reviewed articles, because they are so strongly associated with reliability. If you have questions about a source's reliability, you can always ask a librarian or your instructor.

Q: How do I send a citation to myself, so I have it easily available?
A: If you're using PsycINFO or the Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, when you email an article to yourself, select the radio button beside "citation format" and "APA" from the drop down list of options. See the image below for an example.
Email Citation

Q: Why would you put a phrase in quotes?
A: You put a phrase in quotes when you want the search system to find those exact words, in that exact order, with no other words in between. Otherwise, the system will look for your search terms separately, anywhere they appear in the article. So, using the phrase helps increase the relevancy of your results by making your search that much more specific.

Q: How long does it take for a book or paper to get to you when you request an Interlibrary Loan?
A: It takes articles an average of 1-4 days, and they'll always be delivered to you via your email. If you request a book, DVD, CD, or other physical item, it takes a little bit longer, because the item actually has to come in the mail. It takes 6-14 days to get a physical item. You receive an email when it comes it, then you come pick it up at the Library.

Q: What is the "Check for full text"?
A: You'll see this link in a lot of our Library resources. It does two things. First, it checks to see if the Library has access to that article via any of its online subscriptions. If it does, it connects you to the full text. If we don't have it, it gives you the option to place an Interlibrary Loan request easily.

Q: What does the "advanced search" button do?
A: If you're talking about the advanced search option in PsycINFO and the Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, we were actually using the advanced search in class - it just opens up that search screen with the multiple search boxes and search options.

Q: Is any research paper too short or too elementary to "count"?
A: Probably not, as long as it's a real research paper. If you find something short, it might just be a summary of the research or a news-type report on the research. You'd want to make sure you were looking at the actual research paper and not a summary or news item. If you're not sure, it's probably best to check with your instructor.

Q: What is the Library tutorial for?
A: Just to help you remember what we talked about in class.

Q: What did you mean when you said Psychology & Behavioral Sciences Collection is less content & more?
A: Compared to PsycINFO, the amount of overall content you are searching is smaller. But, of that smaller overall content, a higher percentage of it is available full-text.

Q: How can you add more boxes to your search?
A: Beside your last search box, you should see a little gray plus sign in a circle. Just click on that, and you can add as many search boxes as you like.

Q: Is there a keyword you can use to find a research paper?
Q: Is there a quicker way to get/find research papers?

A: Not really. If you add "research" or "research paper" to your search, that won't find all the research papers about your topic, and it'll give you lots of irrelevant results. If you're using PsycINFO, you can use the Methodology option and select "Empirical Study", which does a pretty good job of just giving you research papers. The only foolproof method, though, is to take a look at the actual paper and evaluate it for yourself.

Q: How do you know ILL has received your request?
A: After you click the "submit request" button, you should see a blue message near the top of the screen that reads "Request Successful" and gives you your "transaction number." Also, when you log in to ILL, you should see a list of your "pending" requests.

Q: Is the only difference between a research paper & a lit review that the research is a narrow topic?
A: Nope. While it's true that a research paper will be on a more narrow topic than a lit review, what really sets them apart is their function. A research paper reports on an experiment that the authors of the paper performed. Their methods will include setting up a study to test a specific hypothesis, recruiting subjects, and performing the experiment. They'll write up their observations and results. The research paper contributes new knowledge to their field of study. In a literature review, on the other hand, the authors are writing about research other people have done - and lots of it. They're attempting to find and summarize all - or a good portion of - the research on a particular topic. 

Citations for Methods Examples:

**Passafiume, D., De Federicis, L., Carbone, G., & Di Giacomo, D. (2012). Loss of semantic associative categories in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Applied Neuropsychology: Adult, 19(4), 305-311. doi:10.1080/09084282.2012.670160 

*Verma, M. M., & Howard, R. J. (2012). Semantic memory and language dysfunction in early Alzheimer's disease: a review. International Journal Of Geriatric Psychiatry, 27(12), 1209-1217. doi:10.1002/gps.3766