Help finding resources for your research.

PSYC 1030H-A Durham, Winter 2017

This page contains information specific to the assignment for the Winter 2017 course, Section A in Durham, taught by Prof. Im-Bolter.

If you're taking a different section of this course, find general information under the "Articles" tab above.  Your assignment is different.

Useful Tutorials

These tutorials help you understand the concepts required to complete your research effectively.  Take the time to read them now, and avoid frustration. This information was covered in the library instruction class at the beginning of term, but it was a lot to remember.  Use the tutorial tabs to locate specific information you can't remember clearly.

Video: Using PsycINFO to Find Articles

This video walks you through the process of accessing and searching PsycINFO, then following the link to an online article.  This is a demonstration of the process outlined in the Finding Articles tutorial.

PyscINFO: Limit to Empirical Studies

Need to filter your results to "empirical studies"?  Empirical articles report on a measurable (quantitative) study done by the authors.

In PsycINFO it's easy to show only empirical studies.  After performing your search, look at the results screen. 

  • On the left-side menu, find the heading: "Methodology".  Click the arrow to expand it.
  • It shows a list of the main types of articles you found, and how many of the items fit each one.
  • Click "Empirical Study" to see only those.
    • Depending on your need, "Quantitative Study" or "Longitudinal Study" may also be acceptable.

Screen capture.

Screen capture of the "Methodology" limiter box described.

To remove this restriction, click on the "X". You'll be shown all your results again.

Screen capture of removing a filter.

Scholarly Journal Articles OR NOT?


Compare each of these documents.  Which is the scholarly journal article?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

  • This is a website from NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health).
  • It's a reliable and informative site, but it's not a published journal article.
  • It's there to provide general information to the public.

Not Your Kids' ADHD

  • This is a published article, from Volume 38, Issue 1 of Discover, on page 65 of the printed volume.
  • However, it's not a scholarly article because it isn't from a scholarly or peer-reviewed journal. There's no bibliography and no indication that the author is an expert or scholar.  Discover is a popular magazine designed to appeal to the public, not for scholars.
  • It DOES talk about two published studies, however.  You want to track down those articles for your research.

Is ADHD a Mental Health Crisis or a Cultural One?

  • This is published on the Maclean's magazine website, but it may not even have been published in the magazine - there's no volume/issue number.  If it's removed from the website, it's gone.
  • It's not scholarly because there's no bibliography and it's written by a journalist, not a researching scholar.  (You can find this out by clicking on the author's name.)

ADHD Symptoms: This Disorder Can Look Very Different in Girls

  • This is an article from the online Huffington Post
  • It's not a scholarly article, because there's no study, no bibliography, and the author is a journalist, not a scholar.
  • It talks about some studies.  You want to track down those studies and use them for your research, not this article.


None of these is a scholarly journal article.  How can you most easily eliminate these types of documents?  Use PsycINFO for your search.  None of these can be found using PsycINFO, because it doesn't include these kinds of documents.  PsycINFO focuses on scholarly journals and books.

Scholarly Communication

Scholars have a specialized method of communicating and sharing knowledge, across time and space, whether they've met each other or not.  They communicate through the publication of journal articles.

  • A scholar/researcher gets an idea, creates a research plan to study it, then publishes the results for the world to see.  (Naturally, there are quality measures built in along the way.)
  • The publication includes details about what's already been published on the topic, and then explains how this research has added to the collective knowledge.
  • Because it's a published article (as opposed to a blog or website, for instance) it's permanent.  For decades to come, anyone can read this publication exactly as it was originally published.  It doesn't matter how any individual accesses the article; as long as they know the journal, volume, date, and page number they can see the exact same article.
  • This is why it's vital that all scholars know how to find, access, and read scholarly journal articles.  It's why there are specialized databases to make it easier.

Once the new information becomes more mainstream, it's included in various books, textbooks, websites, etc.

What does this mean for a 1st year Psychology students?

  • You are now a scholar, and you need to start thinking like one.  While your textbook gives you the "big picture" of well-known information, recent journal articles tell you the latest developments.
  • When you write your research paper, your job is to bring in some of the small details that recent research can add.
  • PsycINFO is designed to help you with this.  It's a database designed just for Psychology researchers, covering scholarly books and journals.  It directs you to the published information available on your topic.

Research Paper

For your research paper, you need to locate and read at least ONE scholarly empirical article on the psychological disorder you're writing about. This guide provides the help you need to find it.

One of the goals of this assignment is to help you become familiar with finding, recognizing, reading, and using scholarly articles - an essential tool for Psychology students.  Psychological research is based on empirical studies which are completed by experts in the field and published in respected scholarly journals.  Researchers at all levels need to become proficient and comfortable with using them.

For this research, you want to use the database PsycINFO.  Why?  Because it's a database created just for scholars looking for published research in Psychology.  It's a unique database with search options particularly useful for Psychology.  When you use PsycINFO to obtain your article, you won't find general websites, blogs, or fluffy material - because it's not a database for the general public.  Below you'll find a link to the database, and tips on how to use it.  You can also find this information from the "Articles" tab at the top of this page.

Link to PsycINFO

Searching Suggestions

  1. Keep your search terms simple and general.  All you need is an article about your chosen psychological disorder; it doesn't need to be specific to your case.
    • Example: ADHD
  2. If you don't find anything with your search term:
    • Check the spelling.  (This isn't Google and it won't correct your spelling!)
    • Try another form of the term.  Sometimes you get completed different results by using the official term instead of the common term. 
      • Example: "Attention Deficit Disorder".
  3. If you get too many results:
    • Notice that they're sorted with the most recent first, so you only need to look at the first few pages.
    • Try some of the limiters in the left menu to "Narrow Results":
      • Select only "Peer Reviewed" and/or "Scholarly Journals".  (Most of the time these are the same thing, but not always.)
      • Click on "Subjects" and choose the subject that most closely matches yours.
      • Under "Methodology" select either "Empirical Study" or "Quantitative Study".
    • Put quotes around terms you want to stay together as a phrase.
      • Example: "attention deficit".
    • "Modify" your search by adding more search terms with "AND" between them.  This narrows your results to items with ALL your search terms.
      • Example: adhd and "university students".

Getting From a Citation to the Article

PsycINFO is an indexing database, which means it provides detailed information about an article, but it doesn't provide the full article. Your "Results" screen gives a brief description of the articles found with your search term(s). Click the title of an article to get the "Full" description, which includes:

  • article title, author names, journal title, volume, issue, year, and page numbers
  • an abstract, which summarizes what the article covers
  • details such as the type of study, population studied, author email addresses, language, journal publishers, etc.
  • "Full text availability"

To get from the description (citation) of the article to the full text of the article, look for options under "Full text availability:".

  • Get It! Trent icon  Click the "get it! Trent" link. 
    • This is the link to the journal available through the Trent Library.
    • Trent pays for access to these journals, for your use while you're studying here.  You must use these links to access them, in order to be recognized as a Trent student.
    • If you're working from off-campus, you'll be asked to login with your myTrent username/password.
    • IF we have access to the journal, you'll be connected to it through "Get It! Trent", which uses our "Journals A-Z" database to find the journal, issue, and page number on which your article appears.

Examples of Scholarly Journal Articles

This is an example of a scholarly article which is NOT empirical.

Shura, R. D., Miskey, H. M., Williams, V. G., Jadidian, A., & Rowland, J. A. (2017). Informing evidence-based assessment of ADHD in veterans and service members. Military Psychology, 29(1), 27-40.

  • There's no specific study.  This is a review article, with information from (and citations to) empirical studies.  It will tell you about some very good empirical articles you can track down.
  • It's still scholarly: the authors work at research institutions and there are plenty of citations for their background reading.

This is an example of a scholarly article which IS empirical.

Im-Bolter, N., Agostino, A., & Owens-Jaffray, K. (2016). Theory of mind in middle childhood and early adolescence: Different from before? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 149, 98-115.

  • When you open the .pdf of the article, you see the names of the authors - as well as where they work (at Universities).
  • The abstract clearly describes a study with participants and data.
  • The article is full of citations to other articles where you can find the published information on which this study was built.
  • There's no doubt this is both scholarly and impirical.