In the social science disciplines, the term "empirical research" is synonymous with the term "primary source". This type of research is usually published as articles in scholarly journal publications such as the American Journal of Psychology and indexed in specialized subject databases such as PsycINFO. You will be asked to consult an empirical research article for this course. Here is what you should look for:
If an article is empirical, it will include terms such as:
Empirical research articles are usually substantial (more than 1 or 2 pages) and include a bibliography or cited references section (usually at the end of the article).
Empirical research articles are published in scholarly or academic journals. These publications are also sometimes referred to as "peer-reviewed," or "refereed" publications. Examples of such publications include: Journal of Family Psychology, Child & Family Social Work, and Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
For further information about empirical research, please consult the following:
- How to Find Empirical Research (from Saint Anselm College)
- Proposing Empirical Research: A Guide to the Fundamentals
H62 .P316 2005
- Writing Empirical Research Reports
LB2369 .P97 2005
PsycINFO is by far the most comprehensive database for locating empirical research in the field of child psychology. There are some special search features unique to PsycINFO that will assist you in refining your search. One is limiting search Methodology to 'EMPIRICAL STUDY'.
Please note that only a small portion of the PsycINFO database is full-text. If not available in the Geisel library’s print collection, then you may need to request needed items via our Interlibrary Loan service.
Other databases which will also provide empirical research articles in the area of child psychology are:
Many of the articles in these databases are full-text. However, they are not as comprehensive in scope and indexing as PsycINFO. When using PsycINFO, the WebBridge button will point you to the full-text article link (if available).
When searching library databases, combine keywords in your search statements or phrases using operators AND and OR. This is covered more fully in EN 103 classes, but as a reminder, here are some examples:
- social problem solving AND (aggress* OR anti-social)
- father* AND empath*
- spiritual* AND coping AND child*
- cognitive map* AND reading
- attention and kindergarten* AND (survey OR questionnaire OR interview*)
An asterisk (*) is a commonly used symbol in most databases. Used at the end of a word stem, it provides for all variants on the word stem. (e.g. child* retrieves child, children, childbirth, etc). It is sometimes referred to as a truncation symbol.
It is usually possible to limit your search words to Title and Abstract fields, thus making your search results more focused. It is also possible to limit your search results to Peer-reviewed articles. This is the process requiring that each article submitted for publication should be judged by an independent panel of experts (scholarly or scientific peers). Most empirical research is also peer-reviewed.
Most empirical research is found in academic journals, as described above. For backgound information and other secondary source material (research analyses, book reviews, literature reviews, theoretical studies, etc.), consult books.
The Geisel Library owns print and online reference books. Print reference books are shelved by Library of Congress call number in the reference stacks near the Reference Desk. Reference books are especially helpful for choosing a topic and finding background information. Here are a few appropriate reference titles:
Cambridge Encyclopedia of Child Development
The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion
Ref HQ767.84 .C55 2009
Children's Needs III: Development, Prevention and Intervention
Ref LB1027.55 .C463 2006
Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology
Ref BF31 .E52 2010 (4 volumes)
Encyclopedia of Human Development
See section on "Child Psychology"
Encyclopedia of Human Intelligence
Ref BF431 .E59 1994 (2 vols.)
See "Child and Adolescent Intelligence"
Handbook of Child Psychology
Ref BF721 .H242 2006 (4 vols.)
There may be many more helpful titles or chapters in the general collection pertaining to the subject of your research. To locate them, please consult the following book databases:
Geisel Library Catalog
Use to locate books housed in Geisel Library.
A database that allows you to search the collections of libraries throughout the United States.
Over 40,000 electronic books are accessible to SAC users through this Ebrary subscription.
A copy of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is located on the library's Ready Reference shelves (Ref BF76.7 .P83 2010). For online guides to APA format, please see the library's Citing Sources link for resources on how to properly cite research materials. Always confirm the style required by your instructor.
You may want to use EndNote to help you store your citations and generate footnotes and bibliographies for your final paper. You can get a copy of EndNote from the IT Help Desk. For help with getting started, see our user guide and guide to exporting citations from library databases into EndNote.
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