Finding Lit Reviews and Research Papers

First, let's use some search tools that are specifically for psychology research.

Click on the "Articles & More" icon on the Library website's home page, and scroll down the alphabetical list until you see "Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection" and "PsycINFO." These are two search tools that are - as their names suggest - specifically for searching academic literature in the psychology fields. PubMed (just a couple of links below) is also a good resource. You can access these search tools off-campus by entering your last name and COCC ID#.


Now, before you jump in and start searching, let's review the difference between a literature review and a research paper. 

Research papers test a hypothesis. The researchers have developed an experiment of some kind to test something new or different, and they're reporting on the results. You can look for sections with headings like introduction, methods (how they set up and performed the research and what instruments they used), results (often with graphs and charts), and discussion/conclusion. You'll still see citations to other literature, and there may even be a literature review section, in which the authors explain how their new research relates to and extends on existing research, but don't be fooled - that doesn't make it a literature review!

Literature reviews evaluate research that has already been published. Literature reviews will generally attempt to summarize the current state of knowledge in the field on a particular topic, and they may even pose questions for further research. There are two types, generally speaking. A systematic review, in the words of the APA, "comprehensively identifies, appraises and synthesizes all relevant research on a specifically formulated question." A meta-analysis is another type of literature review, in which researchers perform statistical analysis on previously published data (definitions from Meta-analyses can look like original research, and they're usually the ones that cause confusion in your search results.Literature reviews will have some of the same sections as a research paper, like introduction, methods, and results, but the methods address how the authors found the literature they are reviewing, rather than how they set up a study to test a new hypothesis.

And, a caution before you start searching. Just adding the phrases "research paper" or "literature review" to your search will not always turn up those types of publications. You will almost certainly miss some of them, and just because something shows up in search results for those terms doesn't mean it is a research paper or literature review. It's best to be ready to evaluate the articles you find to decide for yourself.

On to searching, starting with PsycINFO.


PsycINFO lets you search over 3 million citations for scholarly journal articles, book chapters, books, and dissertations in the field of psychology. The interface will look familiar to Academic Search Premier, but there is a least one key difference.

You can actually search by the type of article you want to find. On the main PsycINFO screen, enter your search term(s) in the search box, and then scroll down until you see a section of options labeled "Methodology." You can select LITERATURE REVIEW or "Systematic Review." Similarly, you can select "Empirical Research" to help you locate research papers.



If you want to see how to do search by methodology, you can watch a short video (below) produced by the fine people at PsycINFO:

Although PsycINFO allows you to search this way, you will still want to evaluate the article yourself to make sure it meets the criteria for your assignment. Computers aren't always right.  

Getting Full Text

When you search PsycINFO and find an article you want to read, you will most often see the "Check for full text" link rather than the "PDF Full Text" link. 


PsycINFO primarily searches citations, not full-text content, so it's searching much more content than we subscribe to. Click on the "Check for full text" link, and you will be given the option to request a copy of that article from Interlibrary Loan (ILL). ILL articles are delivered via email in 1-4 days, so you do need to plan a little bit ahead.


Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection

The Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection includes full-text content from almost 400 psychology journals. It does include some content from popular publications as well, so when you search in here for your articles for this assignment, go ahead and check the "Peer Reviewed" check box under "Limit To" on the left side of the screen after performing your initial search. 


Although there is more full-text available through the Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, you may still see the "Check for full text" link. You can also request articles from here through Interlibrary Loan.

Now that you're familiar with the search tools, you can click here to move on to learning more about smart searching techniques.