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PSY 235 — Research Methods

Contact Information

Stewart Baker


Getting Started

Basic Library Information

Library Lingo

Peer-Reviewed and Other Journals

Finding Journal Articles at CSUDH

Off-Campus Access

Useful Books & Ebooks

Useful Databases


Scholarly Internet Research

General Research Tips

Writing a Literature Review

Library Session Evaluation

Getting Started

Start your research by going to the library home page.

Site Organization:

  • Dropdown Menus - Links to all our major web pages in one convenient place.
  • Tabbed Search Box - Easy one-stop access to search books, articles, and more.
  • Quick Links - Useful links to renew your books, contact the library, and other common tasks.
  • Main Section - All the resources you need to perform your research.

Checking out books: You can see what books are available in the Torofind Library Catalog. Once you have found the books you want, bring them to the Circulation Counter on the second floor of Library North to check them out.  You will need a valid student ID card or a notification from Admissions & Records to check out books.

Click here for a tutorial on how to use the Torofind online catalog.

Library's Book Borrowing Policies

If the library does not have a book you need, you can request it via Inter-Library Loan!

Basic Library Information

Library Lingo

ABSTRACT: a brief summary of the main content of an article

CITATION: the basic information you need to find the full text of an article. Includes article title, author, date, volume/issue, pages, and publication

Call Number - unique identifying letters and numbers on the spine of the book. Books with the same call number have the same subject.

DATABASE: An organized collection of information, especially electronic information.

Format - the "container" for the information: print, online, web, microfilm, paper, bound, microfiche, CD-ROM, and many others.

FULL TEXT: the complete article. Click on the button to see if the Full Text is available.

JOURNAL (also SCHOLARLY JOURNAL): Scholarly publication, articles usually reviewed by experts in the field before publication; published for an academic audience; narrow focus; deeply researched e.g.; American Journal of Psychology

LCSH (Library of Congress Subject Headings) - list of terms libraries use to classify and categorize their books.

MAGAZINE: Publication of general interest: popular interest and broad subjects (e.g: Psychology Today)

OPAC - Online Public Access Catalog 

Periodical - anything published on a regular schedule (6x/year, 4x/year, monthly, weekly, etc.)

ONLINE JOURNAL INDEX: A database that contains magazine, newspaper and journal articles e.g: Academic Search Premier

THESAURUS: The list of topic terms each database uses for its articles or records. Every thesaurus is unique to the database or discipline, including the library catalog, which uses the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). When you search by subject (SU) or descriptor (DE), you must use these approved terms. Also called Controlled Vocabulary.

Peer-Reviewed and Other Journals

When writing papers in the university setting, you will often be asked to use "peer-reviewed," or scholarly journals.

There are several differences between these journals and popular magazines like Time or Newsweek.

First of all, peer-reviewed journal articles are written with an expert, or mostly-expert audience in mind.  Popular magazine, on the other hand, are written for a general audience and thus do not go into as much detail.

More importantly, however, is the "peer review" process which any articles published in a scholarly journal undergo before publication.  Whenever someone submits an article to a scholarly journal, it is reviewed by a panel of experts before being accepted.  These experts check facts, data, and logic to ensure that any article which makes it to publication is as good as it can be on many levels. 

Because of the target audience and the peer review process, you can be sure that--in most cases--articles published in scholarly journals are accurate, insightful, and authoritative.  This is why, most of the time, your professor will ask you to use scholarly journal articles.

Finding Journal Articles at CSUDH

You can get journal articles by going to the library home page.  Below the tabbed search area, you will see three options:

Once you are in a database, you can start to search for your article. All databases' search options are slightly different, but they usually include several search boxes you can fill out. Most databases will also let you search only for peer-reviewed or scholarly journals. For your research papers, you will want to make sure you check this option!

Articles which you can read in that database will have a link to the PDF full text or the HTML full text. Click on that text link to read the article. Some databases also let you e-mail yourself the files by clicking on an e-mail link.

Some articles will say "Find it @ CSUDH Lib" instead of having links to the full text. If you see this, it means the text of that article is not in the database you are searching. But don't worry! By clicking the link which says this, you can see a list of which databases do have the full text. If there are no databases containing the article you want, you can request it via Inter-Library Loan.

You can also use the "Quick Search" or "Google Scholar" links if you are having trouble, or use the search box titled "Articles & eResources."

Off-Campus Access

If you are using a computer that is on campus, you can access all of our electronic databases and ebooks without any further steps. Just click on the database name in the Database List and you will be sent immediately to the search screen.

If you are off campus, you will need to log in using your MyCSUDH Username and Password (the same thing you use to log in to Blackboard, MyCSUDH, and student e-mail). When you click on a database name from off-campus, you will see a screen asking you for this information.

After you enter your login information, you should be able to access any of our electronic databases and ebooks just like you would on campus.  If you have problems, try resetting your password.  If that doesn't work either, give the reference desk a call at (310) 243-3586 and we will help you troubleshoot.

Useful Books & Ebooks

For this particular class, you'll probably be looking up books on subjects related to Psychology. There are a couple of different ways you can approach the subject depending on your topic and idea. Try the following search in the library's online catalog and you will see a list of books.

  • Go to the library's online catalog
  • In the drop-down menu to the left, select "Subject - Subject Words"
  • In the text area to the right, type in Psychology (or your related subject).
  • Find one of the subjects you are interested in, and click on it to see a list of books.
  • Once you have a list of books on the screen, you can sort your results with the drop-down menu at the right.
  • Select "Sort by year - newest to oldest" to see a list of books with the most recent books first.

The library also has several collections of ebooks: books that have been scanned in and which you can access from home using the library website. The main collections of ebooks are ebrary and EBSCO ebooks. You can find it by clicking the "Databases by Title" header on the main library page, then selecting "E" for ebrary and EBSCO ebooks.

To find useful ebooks, you can just do a regular book search of the libraries catalogue.  Ebooks will show a "click here to access" link which lets you read the book online.  Or you can log in to ebrary or EBSCO ebooks and do a search in the same way as our general catalogue. 

Useful Databases

Academic Search Premier
Academic Search Premier is the world's largest scholarly, multi-discipline, full text database designed specifically for academic institutions. With the most valuable and most numerous collection of peer-reviewed full text journals, Academic Search Premier offers critical information from many sources found in no other database. This resource contains full text for nearly 3,200 scholarly publications. Academic Search Premier includes full-page images as well as color embedded images. The diverse content is a valuable resource for your library, supporting core curriculum degree requirements and elective classes. This scholarly collection provides full text journal coverage for nearly all academic areas of study - including social sciences, humanities, education, computer sciences, engineering, language and linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, and ethnic studies.

The PsycINFO®, database, American Psychological Association’s (APA) renowned resource for abstracts of scholarly journal articles, book chapters, books, and dissertations, is the largest resource devoted to peer-reviewed literature in behavioral science and mental health. It contains over 3 million records and summaries dating as far back as the 1600s with one of the highest DOI matching rates in the publishing industry. Journal coverage, which spans from the 1800s to the present, includes international material selected from around 2,500 periodicals in dozens of languages.

Sage Journals Online
Search thousands of journals from Sage Publishers.

Providing researchers with access to millions of scientific documents from journals, books, series, protocols and reference works.


What is plagiarism? - Plagiarism is "The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft." (OED)

In essence, when you quote or paraphrase from somebody else's work without citing it, you are plagiarizing their work. Plagiarism is a serious matter, and could result in a lower or failing grade and even in your expulsion from university. Just rewording your work isn't enough to avoid plagiarism. Since you are still borrowing information heavily from another writer, you still need to include a citation.

But I didn't know! - Ignorance of the law is unfortunately no excuse. You can commit plagiarism without meaning to, and it's just as serious a problem if you do.

How can I avoid it? - You can avoid plagiarism by always citing your sources. Whenever you put a quotation or borrow information heavily from a source, be sure you include a citation in the proper APA style. This will let your professor know you aren't trying to pass the idea off as your own. Taking detailed notes on where you get your information helps a lot with this, since it prevents you from forgetting which is your own work and which is borrowed from others.

For more information, see your student handbook and this handout by Sheela Pawar at CSUDH

Scholarly Internet Research

Remember, not all web sites are created equally. Some sites can be valid sources of information, but others are filled with opinion represented as fact. While there isn't a 100% effective way to figure out what kind of site you're looking at, here are some guidelines to follow when using the internet for research:

  • Check Credibility - Is it easy to figure out who's behind the information? Does whomever it is know what they're talking about? Do they have qualifications in the field or some other reason to be trust-worthy in it?
  • Check Accuracy - Are the sources cited well? Is the information up-to-date? Are there any broad, sweeping generalisations that are impossible to verify?
  • Check Reasonableness - What is the page's point-of-view? Is it a corporate page trying to sell you a product? Is it a government or educational site where the main purpose is to educate people?
  • Check Support - Is it possible to double-check the information in another location?

Useful Scholarly Websites

INFOMINE is a virtual library of Internet resources relevant to faculty, students, and research staff at the university level. It contains useful Internet resources such as databases, electronic journals, electronic books, bulletin boards, mailing lists, online library card catalogs, articles, directories of researchers, and many other types of information.

The Librarians' Internet Index aims to provide a well-organized point of access for reliable, trustworthy, librarian-selected websites, serving California, the nation, and the world. All links on the Index are selected and approved by librarians before inclusion.

For more information, check out our guide on Evaluating Web Resources

General Research Tips

Use multiple search terms - Remember, not every database or article uses exactly the same words to describe the same thing. Make sure you try several synonyms for the term you're trying to find. Most databases have a link titled "thesaurus" or "subject terms" which you can use to find out what words to search for.

Search in multiple places - The more places you look for information, the more information you're likely to find. Don't just search in one database and assume it's all you'll be able to find! Take a look at the list of Useful Databases earlier on in this page for where to start your search.

Ask for help - Don't be afraid to ask for help! Research can be an exhausting process, and sometimes a fresh perspective will make your task immensely easier. You can stop by the reference desk in the library and ask any of the reference librarians for help with your research. You can also submit an online help request which a librarian will answer within a day or two.

Don't leave it until the last minute - The earlier you start, the better your paper will be. Starting early gives you plenty of time to read and absorb the information so that you'll be properly informed when writing your paper.

Writing a Literature Review
For information on writing a literature review, including examples, see the following link:

How to Write a Literature Review, from the USC Library.

Library Session Evaluation