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Psychology Research Guide

A starting assistance to students and faculty for the research in Psychology area.

How to find and access a database from CU's library home page?

Q: How can I find and access a database from your library website?

A: Please follow these steps:

1) Point your browser to this URL:

2) Click "Databases" tab above the search box in the middle of the page;

3) If you know the name of database, input it into the search box; if you don't know any database, click the link "Databases by Category", then select the subject you are interested from the list at the left side menu;

4) Click on the database title from the list to access the database. [If you are off campus, you will be asked for your Cardinal Credential before enter the databases.]

What is an empirical research article? Where can I find them?

Q: What is an empirical research article? Where can I find them?

A: APA defines an empirical study as a "Study based on facts, systematic observation, or experiment, rather than theory or general philosophical principle." An empirical research article reports on the results of research that uses data collected from observation or experiment.

PsycINFO provides an easy tool to limit your search results with Methodology as Empirical study.

Where to find test information?

Q: I am wondering if you might point me in the best direction for finding reliability and validity figures for testing instruments (e.g. Neo-PI). Is the MMY just one reference book that needs to be viewed in the library? Can I get this info online?

A: MMY is a good place to find reliability and validity figures for testing instruments, which our libraries have both printed and online versions. However, it only covers the commercially available tests and measurements. If you cannot find a specific test in MMY, you still can search PsycINFO and another database Health and Psychosocial Instruments (HaPI) (both of databases can be found in the Psychology" category from our library home page under "Databases" tab). Sometimes some journal articles or reference books have the information about a test. PsycINFO and HaPI can help you find out which journal or reference book has such information.

Why not in MMY?

Q: I have tried several times to search the MMY database for Stocker and McHale's (1992) Sibling Relationship Inventory (SRI) and Furman and Buhrmester's (1985) Sibling Relationship Questionnaire (SRQ). I have searched all these authors names, years, and titles just as I search every other search engine like Psycinfo, Jstor, yet I come up with no search results. Is there an alternative way to search the online MMY that I am unaware of?

A: There are different kinds of tests or instruments. TIP and MMY don't include all known tests. For example, they don't include "research or proprietary instruments -- research instruments are often published in journals and serve the limited uses of test authors; proprietary instruments are frequently designed for specialized audiences (e.g., admissions, licensure, certification) or for highly secured markets (e.g., government, industry) and are not considered 'commercially available' tests". [ -- From Introduction in TIP VII.]

These two measurements are not commercial ones, that is the reason that you cannot find them in MMY.

CU has another database "Health & Psychosocial Instruments (HAPI)", which covers some noncommercial tests and measurements. I searched it, and find information for both measurements... I simply searched by keywords.

Remember in this database, "Primary Source" means that HaPI provides citation of the original article where the instrument was first published or a resource that contains the full-text of the instrument; "Secondary Source" means that HaPI provides citations of the articles that describe how the instrument was used, outcomes, and more.

Where to find the information about history of a specific field in Psychology?

Q: I have difficulty to find the information about the history of a specific field (e.g. Cognitive Psychology, or Neuropsychology) for my paper. Would you help me?

A: There are two good places to find such information:

1) Encyclopedia. We have the 8-volume "Encyclopedia of Psychology" (call number BF31 .E52 2000)  in Mullen Library's Reference Reading Room. You can use the index in Vol. 8 to locate either the specific field (e.g. Cognitive Psychology) or psychology for the general history. Remember to check the bibliography after each article for more detailed information if you need. You also can use the online version of "Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology" or "Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology", which you can browse by title and topic, or search specific keywords.

2) Books found by WRLC Catalog. You can use either keyword search for "cognitive psychology" and histor? or subject heading search for cognitive psychology (then you will see a subject heading "Cognitive psychology -- History").

Please contact me if you still need help.

Where to view a video of psychiatric counseling?

Q: Do you have videos that show how professional therapists conduct psychiatric counseling?

A: Catholic University Libraries currently subscribes databases "PsycTHERAPY" and "Counseling and Therapy in Video". They provides the online collections of video available for the study of psychotherapy, psychiatric counseling, psychology, and social work.

Where to find the core literature for my topic?

Q: I need to find all the important works for my research area. Would you please provide a list to such works?

A: CUA has a database "Oxford Bibliographies Online: Psychology". It is a collection of bibliographies and research guides covering the field of pscychology. You can search or browse for your topic. For each topic, it includes introductions and expertly-constructed annotated bibliographies of sources. You may use the "Find It" button in each bibliography (by clicking on "[+] Find this resource:") to easily locate the full text of the work in online journals, databases and books owned or licensed by Catholic University. Please see what it provides for the topic "Mindfulness" as an example.

What are the differences between empirical research article and popular press article?

Q: What are the differences between empirical research article and popular press article?

A: We can compare them from the following aspects:

  Empirical Research Article Popular Press Article
Where Professional journals Newspapers, Magazines, Newsletters, News, blogs, etc.
Who Author: Professors or researchers
Reader: Scholars who is knowledgeable about the specific discipline
Author: Journalists, Freelance writers, professionals or researchers
Reader: General public
What Specific original experiment in details (including literature review, methods, results, discussion, and bibliographic references)/td> Interesting facts, general summary, or anything that general public are interested and able to understand
Why Scholarly communication Inform/explain, entertain, persuade, etc.
How Restricted structure, professional terminology, figures, tables, charts, math formula, etc. peer-reviewed, 4-20 pages in length Language and vocabulary that general public can understand, colorful photos and images, etc. 1-3 pages in length

Does Open Access mean lower quality? How to get high quality journal articles?

Q: Does Open Access mean lower quality? How to get high quality journal articles?

A: Open Access definitely does not mean lower quality. Open Access is just another publishing model that the publisher offers and the author of the article chose, by which the author generously paid in-the-front for all the public can read the article freely instead of the readers pay when they want to read the article. For more information about Open Access, please refer to the article “Open Access: Transitions and Transformations” in our Library’s blog What’s Up.

To judge the quality of a journal or an article, we look whether the journal is peer-reviewed and who is on the editorial board for the journal, NOT whether it is free to the public. Peer-review is a process that is used by the professional journals to assess the validity and quality of an article (i.e. the article is reviewed by several other experts in the subject field) before the article is published. Many creators of our library subscription databases also conduct screening and evaluations against the journals’ quality before adding them into the databases, so you can easily limit your search results by selecting “Peer-Reviewed Journals” in those databases to receive the high quality articles.

Where shall I publish my article?

Q: I have an article that I would like to publish. Any suggestions for the journal I can consider? Are there anything I need to pay special attention to?

A: There are tens of thousands publishers in the world: some are good while some are bad, some focus on academic publications, some focus on popular readings, some publish textbooks only, etc. To select the right one for your new publication, you may narrow down your selections with these methods.

  1. Look at the references you are using in your article, consider to publish yours in the same journals. Those journals have the editors who are familiar with your topic, and will be happy to see more outcomes that cite their previous publications.
  2. Search PsycINFO for your topic and consider the journals that have published the articles in the similar area as yours. The journals that are indexed in PsycINFO have good reputations that you can trust, and PsycINFO as the top 1 psychology database will help your article be aware by more psychology researchers in the future.
  3. The Journal Citation Reports (JCR) provides the journal's impact factor. The higher impact factor indicates a better journal in general.
  4. Work with those publishers with good academic reputations, such as APA, Elsevier, Springer, SAGE, Taylor & Francis, Wiley, and universities’ presses, etc. Watch out the predatory publishers. For more information about avoiding predatory publishers, please watch the webinar by our Coordinator of Digital Scholarship, Kevin Gunn, at This webinar also points out the right of author.