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PSY 235 — Introduction to Library Research Methods


Contact Information

Carol Dales


Library Basic Information

Searching for Articles

About PsycINFO

Find PsycINFO on the CSUDH Website

Search in PsycINFO for Articles on a Topic

View Your Search Results


Finding a Specific Journal Article

Citing your Sources

Summary of PsycINFO searching

Plagiarism & Citation

Library Basic Information

Searching for Articles

Find the CSUDH Library journal article databases on the Library home page.

Two things you need to use CSUDH databases when you're off campus:

  1. You must already be registered as a CSUDH Library user. This usually happens automatically shortly after you register for classes.
  2. You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader software (v. 10.0 or later) installed on your desktop or laptop computer.
    Many articles are available only in .pdf (portable document format) format, and you absolutely must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to read and/or print them.
    Get Adobe Acrobat Reader free at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html

About PsycINFO

PsycINFO is an online search tool produced by the American Psychological Association  to index the international scholarly literature of psychology and psychological aspects of related disciplines from
1887- date.


  • includes citations and abstracts of journal articles from over 2500 academic journals
  • also includes non-journal items such as research reports, conference proceedings, dissertations  and English language books and chapters,1987 to date.
Does PsycINFO include ANY full text journal articles?

PsycINFO is mainly a research and current awareness tool that gives you:
    • citations: basic information that enables you to track down a publication, including: author name; article, chapter or book title; journal title (if an article citation); issue and page numbers of journals; publisher and place of publication information for books,

    • abstracts: summaries of each article and publication it indexes.

The Library subscribes to the EBSCOhost version of PsycINFO so you can have access to links to full text for more than 25% of the articles it indexes.
All PsycINFO results also contain direct links (in the "Find it @ CSUDH Lib" button) to articles in many other online journal article databases to which the Library also subscribes.

TIP: Always click the red and white  "Find it @ CSUDH Lib" button to see if CSUDH Library has the full text of the article you want in a different database!

Find PsycINFO on the CSUDH Website
  1. Open the CSUDH Library Home Page
  2. Click on "Article Databases by Subject" (on the left hand side of the screen).
  3. Move your cursor down to Psychology and click right on top of it.
  4. Click on PsycINFO (5th line down).
  • If you are on the CSUDH campus , you will go directly to PsycINFO.
  • When you see the EBSCOhost "Choose Databases" page, click on top of the blue underlined title PsycINFO.
  • If you are off campus, you will see an authentication screen.
    Enter your user name and password (the same information you use to log in to Blackboard, MyCSUDH and campus email). Then click Submit.

Search in PsycINFO for Articles on a Topic
  • PsycINFO is not case sensitive, so use UPPER or lower case letters.
  • Analyze your question or topic looking for its unique concepts and vocabulary.
  • Write down the most important key word or words. Try to develop a list of synonyms for each word. The resulting words are your search terms.

 For a single concept search, in the top Find box, type:

  • A phrase (e.g. eating disorders) or
  • One word (e.g. bulimia) or
  • A root word with truncation symbol (e.g. child* [gets child, children, childhood, etc.]) or
  • A word with wild card symbol (e.g. wom?n [gets woman or women]).

For more complex searches, combine concepts with connector words:

  • AND will narrow search results (e.g. eating disorders AND college students)
  • OR will broaden search. (e.g. adolescents OR children OR teenagers )
  • NOT will narrow (limit) search (e.g. drugs NOT prescription )

To limit your search to journal articles only:

    •  click the "Publication Type" dropdown box (under "Search Options"),
      OR (if you have already done a search and can't see the "Search Options" section)
    •  click "Show more" (in tiny blue type on the LH side of the search results area) and set the "Publication Type" dialog box  to read "All journals".

  • The drop-down text boxes on each line supply ready-made connector words (AND, OR, NOT) as well as over 30 search entry  fields to limit your search. To find the screen that allows you to narrow and broaden after you've already done a search, click the tiny Show more link on the RH side of your search results.
  • To limit your search to a particular journal title or a range of dates, check or type in the boxes provided on the screen that appears when you click "Show more". Then click Search to apply the change and return to the results screen.
  • To limit your search to peer reviewed articles only, check beside "Peer reviewed" on the "Search options" screen or on the LH side of your results (click the dark green Update button to get your new results screen).
  • The most effective way to search is almost always to do several or more  searches in a row, each time using different search terms and limits to locate articles that are really what you need.

View Your Search Results
  • After you click the Search button, the Results List will appear.
    Records will appear in table format; the default list is by relevance, but you can change it to newest first by clicking the tiny arrow beside "Relevance" (above the first search result) and changing it to read "date descending").
  • Each record includes a citation and an abstract with your search terms highlighted.
  • Click on any article title for more information about the article, especially to see all of the Subjects under which the article was classified.
  • Save articles to an electronic "Folder" by clicking on the pale blue "Folder" icon on the RH side of each record. Use the Folder (at the top of each PsycINFO screen) to collect search results you want to look at more closely.
  • Click"PDF Full Text" or "Linked Full Text" to see the complete article.
  • A PDF Full Text article looks exactly like the article in hard copy (the paper journal) and opens in Adobe Acrobat Reader. Print it by clicking the Print button in the floating Adobe Acrobat toolbar at the bottom of most article pages OR on the upper RH side of the article page.

At the bottom of MANY records, you will see a red and white "Find it @CSUDH Lib"  button  . Clicking this icon leads to several possible kinds of results:

  1. You will see a list of one or more links to the article in one or more different databases.    When you click on one of those databases,  you may be able to link directly to the article OR you may have to  search in the database for the article you want.
  2. Sometimes, if the CSUDH Library is a current or past subscriber to the journal title you need, you will also be able to link to locations and dates of print versions in the CSUDH Library. These may be:
    • on the current journal issues shelves on the west end of the 3rd floor of the South (new) library wing or in thick bound volumes on the east end of the 3rd floor South shelves.
    • on microfilm or in storage---check at Reference Desk on 2nd flr of the South (new) library wing (most microfilm and storage items are not currently available and must be requested through Interlibrary Loan-see 3., below).
  3. You may see this message:
    "CSUDH Library does not own this item. Click HERE to fill out an Article Request Form."
    If you request an article through this link, the Library orders it from another library that owns the article. This process is called Interlibrary Loan.   These articles usually take at least a week to arrive and, whenever possible, we email them to you as a .pdf file attachment.

You can print, e-mail and save most individual articles, abstracts, and folders by clicking the buttons at the top RH of the screen (follow instructions carefully).


  • you can't always e-mail articles in .pdf format -- the files are so large that some email providers can't accept them.
  • occasionally, you won't be able to open the articles in a folder when you're off campus unless you have an EBSCO password (email Carol Dales if this happens to you)

  • Locate the Thesaurus button or link on the screen (in some other databases, the thesaurus button is called "Subject Headings" or "Subject Index", instead of Thesaurus).
  • Type a word or phrase for which you would like to identify a subject heading into the appropriate box .
  • Sometimes you can click on the suggested search term to see a note that defines the term as it is used in the database, as well as a list of narrower , broader and related terms.
  • Either write down useful subject headings or cut and paste them into the search screen where you are working.

Here's a great video on help you use the PsycINFO Thesaurus:

Finding a Specific Journal Article

If you already have a reference or citation to a specific journal article (e.g.: from an assigned reading list in your class syllabus, or from a list of references at the end of a book chapter or article), find out if the Library subscribes to the journal you need or owns the back issue you need.

Sometimes you can quickly  locate a specific article by typing the article title (or the beginning of the article title)  into Google Scholar or the search box at the top of the Library home page. Often you will be able to link directly to the article full text.

If this doesn't work, try using the Journals we own link to see whether we have the journal and date that contains the article you need. This list includes both print and online journals (the CSUDH Library subscribes to over 25,000 journals online).

For more detailed help finding a known article, please contact the Library Reference Desk (310-243-3582   OR   310-243-3586, or Live Chat with a Librarian.


Citing your Sources

Almost everyone writing a paper and trying to cite references has had to wonder "Where on earth did I find this??" about one or more resources.
It is much more difficult (sometimes impossible!) to retrace your steps than it is to use note cards or software as you are preparing your paper to keep track of sources of information you use.

When writing a paper or completing a project for a class, you will almost always be asked to provide a bibliography of the materials that you used. Check a print or online citation guide in advance so you'll know what information about each information source to record before you begin your research.

APA Formatting and Style Guide, created and maintained by Purdue University, is a complete and authoritative guide to the most recent APA format rules as laid out in the 6th (newest) edition of the APA Manual. Use the navigation bar on the LH side of the Purdue APA page to find the part you need.

Summary of PsycINFO searching
  • Enter your search terms in one or more Find fields.
  • Focus your search by choosing a Field Code from the All Fields drop-list on each line you use. e.g.: to search for the subject "rape", enter it in the Find field, and select SU-Subject . (If your first Subject search doesn't work, click the Thesaurus button to look for search terms that are agreed upon by the database publisher).
  • Enter additional search terms in the optional search fields. Use the * (truncation symbol) and the ? (wild card) symbol as required.
  • Connect multiple search terms with connector words ( AND , OR , NOT ) to create a very broad or a very narrow search.
  • Tip : Put all OR search terms that belong together (e.g. rape OR assault OR sexual aggression) into the same Find box on one line .
  • Select other appropriate search limiters and "broadeners" (see How to Find an Article on Your Topic).

Need more detailed help?

Try reading through this APA PsyINFO tutorial (more detailed information on limiting and expanding searches, saving searches in My EBSCOhost folder).


Plagiarism & Citation
  • 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." (source: Oxford English Dictionary)

Instances of plagiarism include:

  • Quoting or paraphrasing someone's work in your paper without citing it
  • Expressing someone else's ideas as your own

Plagiarism is a serious matter and could result in a lower or failing grade and even expulsion from the University.

  • 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.
  • How can I avoid it? - You can avoid plagiarism by giving credit where credit is due and always citing your sources. Whenever you insert a quotation, re-word information you got from a source or present an idea developed by someone else, be sure to include a citation in the proper style. It is important to take detailed notes on where you are finding information for your paper as you find it.  This helps to ensure you will cite the information correctly as you begin writing your paper.  
  • The American Psychological Association style, or APA, is commonly used within the social sciences including in communications. In order to avoid plagiarism it is important to document the resources by incorporating citations in text and the references page according to this manual style.
  • For more information about plagiarism, see your student handbook, the CSUDH Student Code of Conduct, and this APA style page from the Purdue Online Writing Lab.
  • P.S.: Take a look at our new CSUDH Library anti-plagiarism tutorial: Plagiarism: How to recognize it and get it out of your life! [PDF] (and don't forget to try out the challenging plagiarism game at the very end!).

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