Video of a Sample Search
This screen capture video shows me accessing a database and finding an article. Many of the items mentioned in the video are explained in further detail below.
What are Peer Reviewed, Empirical Articles?
- Why Do I Need to Use Peer Reviewed Articles?
In writing your papers, you want to be sure that the sources you use are of high quality and significance. If an article is not peer reviewed, it is difficult to verify whether the information is reliable. Peer review helps ensure that the information published is of high quality and significance.
- How Do I Know If an Article is Peer Reviewed?
Most article databases have a way to limit search results to peer-reviewed articles. If you have an article and you are not sure whether or not it is peer reviewed, it is a good idea to go to the web page of the journal and read about the journal's review process. You can also look up the journal title in UlrichsWeb, a resource that provides information about journals and their review processes. UlrichsWeb calls peer reviewed journals "Refereed."
- What is an Empirical Artice?
An empirical article describes research that is based on experiments or observation. The research may be quantitative or qualitative but will always use objective research methods to produce results. Articles can be peer reviewed but not empirical: literature reviews or theoretical works, for example, are not empirical articles. To make sure your article is empirical, look for a description of the methodology the researchers used to collect their data. For a more detailed description of empirical articles, you can read this webpage from Wilson Library at University of La Verne.
Where Can I Find Peer Reviewed, Emprical Articles?
- Signs that Your Source is a Peer Reviewed Article
Click image to view pdf
The best way to find the articles you need is by using one of the library databases listed below. All three of the databases in this section include the full text of some, but not all, of the articles they list.
A database maintained by the US Department of Education, ERIC includes articles from more than 1,000 journals, most of which are peer reviewed. This particular version of ERIC uses the EBSCO platform.
- Education Research Complete
This database uses the same EBSCO interface as ERIC, but it includes more journal titles (although not all are of the same quality). This database is particularly strong in higher education journals.
- Education Full Text
This database searches education journals using the WilsonWeb interface. It searches many of the same journals as the databases above but searches them in a slightly different way.
How Should I Search?
The best database for articles related to psychology and counseling. It also includes articles related to education. Note that in the search results articles will be arranged by date (newest first) and not relevancy.
In any of the above databases you will need to conduct a keyword search.
- Selecting Keywords
It may help to start with a sentence or research question related to your topic. For example, "What are some proven methods for improving reading comprehension for students with learning disabilities?" Next, you'll want to pull out the most important terms that are unique to your topic. In this case, it would probably be "reading comprehension" and "learning disabilities."
Note that terms like "methods" might not be useful, as there are too many articles about "methods" that are unrelated to your topic and too many different synonyms for "methods." Thus, it might be better to leave the term off or use a more specialized term like "intervention."
- Narrowing Your Search
Usually, you will link your keywords together with "and". So, you would search for "reading comprehension and learning disabilities". If you find more article listings than you can read, you may want to add another keyword. In the above example, you may want to add the keyword "elementary" if you just want to focus on elementary school.
How Do I Find the Full Text?
- Broadening Your Search
If you find you are not getting the results you want, you should try using different keywords. Focus on finding synonyms or broader terms. For example, you could use "special education" instead of "learning disabilities" to get different results. You can also search for articles that use either term by connecting them with "or". For example ("learning disabilities" or "special education"). The parentheses help to make sure that the "or" is applied to the correct group.
- Full Text in the Database
If you are lucky, there will be a link to full text in the article record. Look for a link that says "PDF" or "Full Text Html"
- Find Full Text from Another Database
Sometimes the full text won't be in the database you're searching but the library will have access to it in another database. Click the link that says, "Check For Full Text" or "Article Linker" to look it up.
I've Found an Article I Like! How Do I Find More?
- Using Interlibrary Loan
If ODU does not have access to the full text of an article, you can request a digital copy for free through Interlibrary Loan. If you have never used Interlibrary Loan before, you can sign up for an account from the Interlibrary Loan Website. Once you have an account and log in, you can use the link to request an article and enter the citation information.
If you're in a database and use the "Check For Full Text" link or "Article Linker" and the full text is not found, you can click the link that says, "Would you like to submit an interlibrary loan request through ODU ILLIAD?" It will ask you to log in and then will automatically fill out the form to place an article request.
- Look at the Record
Looking at the database record for the article you like, you'll find things that will be useful. First, you may want to read other articles by the same author(s). You can usually click on the author's name to bring up all the articles they've written that are in the database. You should also take a look at the subjects/descriptors and try adding them to your search.
How Do I Cite an Article?
- Look at the Bibliography/Works Cited
Most articles include a literature search and citations to other articles. These articles are likely relevant to your topic, and so you may want to find the full text. To do so, go to the "Find Journals & Newspapers" link from the library homepage and enter the name of the journal. If we have access to the journal online, there will be links to help you get to the full text.
- Using Database Citation Help
Many databases provide a link that will produce formatted citation information. The citations produced by the databases are usually accurate, but often require minor fixes. It is always best to check them against a style guide or citation manual.
This URL: http://www.lib.odu.edu/subjectguides/page.phtml?page_id=147