Psychology Questions

July 28th, 2014

This week, in our ongoing series on how to do research in the major disciplines at IU East, we will look at psychology.  Psychology courses can have a lot of potential research topics – you might be looking for a theorist, a type of treatment, historical issues in psychology, or approach from a mental health perspective.

Most types of psychology research are well supported by the general techniques we explored at the beginning of this series.  Several databases are tailored for this, including PsycINFO and ProQuest Psychology.  If you are interested in a historical topic, a database like JSTOR may also be of value.  All of our other psychology-related databases can be found here.


So, for example, if we were interested in a question like “how reproducible are the results of psychological studies?” we might try a search like this:

(study OR research) AND (result* OR finding*) AND (reproduc* OR replic* OR duplic*)

You can see that we are searching for three main concepts, and using several possible words for each of them to get the best available results.  By the same token, if we had a topic about a specific theory, such as “what goes into the feedback response in Social Learning Theory, excluding extreme cases that involve violence?” we might use a search like this one:

“social learn*” AND (feedback OR respons* OR reinforc*) NOT (violen* OR crim*)

Much like the first search, we are using synonyms for several concepts in order to get articles that use different words for the same thing – only this time, we are including two concepts and excluding a third.  Searching like this can help us get a fuller picture of what is available.  If you just search for one term and don’t get back very much, consider modifying your search terms to look more like this one.

One additional requirement that you may be given is to find and use primary sources.  Primary sources are anything written directly by a participant.  In a research field like psychology, this generally means original research studies in which the author of the article took part in the research process.  To identify these, quickly browse through the full text of the article and see if it describes a study being done.  If one is, usually the paper will include sections with subtitles like ‘methodology’, ‘participants’, ‘analysis’, ‘results’, etc.  If the article only describes what others have done without doing its own research, it is a secondary source.  For example, this paper is a primary source and this paper is not.

Of course, the study of psychology has its own unique needs that are not mirrored by other disciplines.  Fortunately, we have sources for these, as well.


Psychology frequently requires building and administering tests, whether those are to test the mental faculties of a person or to examine a moral or behavioral reaction they might have.  Being able to construct and run a good test is imperative to get meaningful results.  While no one database is dedicated to making, running, and critiquing tests, we have a number of books that are, so you might want to start with an ebook database like Ebrary, EBSCO Ebooks, Wiley Online Library, or OxRef and search for ‘psychological tests’.  A sample of titles in these databases include Essentials of Psychological Testing by Susana Urbina, IQ and Psychometric Tests: Assess Your Personality, Aptitude and Intelligence by Phillip Carter, Psychological Testing: An Introduction by George and Marla Domino, and Dictionary of Psychological Testing, Assessment and Treatment by Ian Stuart-Hamilton.

psychology test the answer is d


When studying the history of psychology, the careers and theories of its various practitioners are often major topics.  How a psychologist introduced or refined a theory often still has implications for modern practice.  To learn more about these theorists, you might use any of the ebook sources listed in the previous section.  Or, you might use a biographical database, like Biography in Context, which in addition to including long and short biographies, also has academic journal articles and primary sources from the subject’s life.  It includes numerous theorists from Jung to Skinner to Bandura to Freud to Glasser to Bloom and beyond.

psych biography in context

With plenty of good psychology resources available to you, you’ll be well positioned to do excellent research.  But if you have any questions, please contact us at!


Math Questions

July 21st, 2014

This week, we will continue our series on the research needs of the major disciplines taught at IU East with a look at mathematics.  People approach math for numerous reasons – studying historical mathematics or mathematicians, practical math (including solving problems and learning formulas), using math as a ‘language’ for another discipline, such as engineering or one of the sciences, or for researching new or unproven hypotheses.  Studying these disparate elements requires different approaches.  Math is also a diverse field, and the needs and goals of, say, calculus are much different from those of geometry or statistics.  They use a common ‘language’, but their purpose and what each subfield describes are quite distinct.  Some tacks are similar to research performed in other fields, and can be handles by standard databases.

Because mathematics can be said to deal in raw truth more than other disciplines (for example, no matter what language you speak or number base system you use, if you mess around with circles long enough, you’ll eventually encounter pi), currency is generally not a factor, making a database like JSTOR ideal – articles written decades ago will almost always be as accurate as newer ones.  Wiley Online also provides wide math coverage from number theory to discrete equations, as well as tying it to other STEM fields.  MathSciNet is a very large database, but only includes article citations – use it far enough in advance of your due date to use interlibrary loan.  Some education databases like ERIC also contain great mathematics content.  And if you want videos, try the Khan Academy on the free web (you will need to create an account with them to watch their videos).  All of our other math-oriented databases can be found listed here.


So, if we were interested in researching Axiomatic Geometry, but specifically only since Euclid, we might pick JSTOR and try a search like this one:

geometry AND (axiom* OR postulate* OR synthetic) NOT euclid*

Notice that we are using general techniques and searching for several concepts at once (as well as excluding another).  We have used several synonyms for ‘axiomatic’ in order to make sure we get the articles we need on the topic, just in case the authors use a less standard word to describe it.  In the same way, if we were looking for proofs in multilinear algebra, we might try a search like this:

algebra* AND (multilinear OR multivector) AND proof*

Even though we are looking for practical rather than historical mathematics here, our search structure remains much the same.  But practical math – solving problems, testing or establishing proofs, applying formulas – can have special needs for a researcher, beyond these types of databases.


Most of what math classes entail is not scholarship about math history.  It’s learning how to do it.  And many of the practical concerns of math education can be served by books rather than journals.  In the physical library, the entire QA range deals with math books.  When you look through the shelves in our library, everything that has a call number beginning with QA is the section you want to browse.  QA101-141.8 deals with basic arithmetic, QA150-272.5 is for algebra, QA273-280 is statistics, and QA440-699 is for geometry and trigonometry books.  We have many ebooks, too – and these can be used for historical topics, such as the development of medieval Arab mathematicians, as well as the more practical topics of problems or proofs.

Dissertations are also a good source for exploring math topics, and ProQuest Dissertations is an excellent source for these.  Many are available in full text, on topics throughout the spectrum of math subjects.  And to find formulas, there are plenty of free sources online for tables, formulas, conversions, and other major tools of practical math work, such as the ones produced by Math Medics.  Consult them for quick reference.

math tables

With so many quality mathematics resources available to you, you’ll be able to do great research.  But if you have any questions, please contact us at!

Social Work Questions

July 14th, 2014

In the tenth part of our summer research series, we’ll be looking at social work.  Like the other disciplines we’ve examined so far, the study of social work will benefit from knowledge of the general techniques we covered in the first week.  But there is plenty more to understand about this field, and how to get the best information available.

For general research, you would want to start with one of our academic databases.  SocIndex, ProQuest Social Science Journals, or Social Theory are good places to begin.  If you need ebooks, the Social Sciences eBook Collection and eBrary both have solid collections.  And for videos, try Counseling and Therapy in Video.  All our social work and social science databases can be found here.

So, let’s say that we are interested in researching the effects of person-centered theory on the process of counseling in social work practice, but that we don’t want to look at any psychological application of it.  Using our general techniques, we might build a search like this one:

social work* AND (counsel* OR guid*) AND (person center* OR pct OR client center*) NOT psyc*

As you can see, we are looking for three key concepts in our question, and excluding a fourth.  We have grouped synonyms together, to make sure we don’t miss a good article just because it used a different word.  And while it looks time consuming, building a search this way saves you time later on looking through page after page of irrelevant articles sifting for the diamond in the rough.

But social work is a field that has significant overlap into other disciplines – economics, psychology, law, and medicine are just a few areas with potential crossover, depending on your topic.  Consider using databases from one of these disciplines as a supplement.  If you are researching health problems faced by those in need of care, a database like Health Source might be useful to you.  Similarly, legal regulations might be covered in Lexis Nexis, and mental health needs in PsycInfo.

If you do use supplementary databases, though, you may want to include “social work*” at the beginning of your search phrase, like in the example above.  While this is generally unnecessary in a social work database, where everything relates to social work, it is useful for filtering out unrelated articles in a database with a wider scope.

But the study of social work has a number of special needs and resources, as well.


This core reference set has served social workers for almost a century, and is produced by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).  Currently in its 20th edition, the Social Work Encyclopedia and its supplements are available online or physically in the library at the call number HV35.S6.  Whether your topic is ethics or interventions with children or therapeutics or case management, this extensive encyclopedia and its bibliographies can greatly enhance your research.  In the online version, the more than 400 individual articles can be saved as PDFs.

encyclopedia of social work


In understanding social work, you often have to examine a particular theory, and the theorist behind it.  To do this, it is helpful to have a biographical source.  In addition to the previously listed Encyclopedia of Social Work, which includes over 200 biographies of prominent theorists and practitioners (choose ‘biographies’ in the ‘browse by subfield’ box), you might also try Biography in Context (search ‘by occupation’ and type ‘social worker’, or by name with a specific person).


The best single source for statistical data is usually the United States government, and that is true in the social services, as well.  One major resource is the Center for Disease Control’s FaStats, which includes a number of metrics concerning the health and needs of the US Population.  Another source of interest is the County and City Data Book, produced by the US Census Bureau.  With many tables on social services uses and expenditures, it is a good way to find major benchmarks.  It is also good for comparing local data to the rest of the state or to the country.

cdc statistics

With so many social work resources available to you, you’ll be able to do great research for projects on any topic.  But if you have any questions, please contact us at!

Fine Arts Questions

July 7th, 2014

This summer, we’ve been examining the tools available to you to perform the best possible research at IU East – from broadly applicable general techniques to in-depth tools for specific disciplines.  This week, we’ll explore the fine arts.

Fine arts is a broad subject, including the graphic arts, music, and performance art.  You might be looking at a specific creator, or a creation.  Or, you might be exploring a technique, instead.  We have plenty of good arts databases for examining theory, execution, or artist.  Some, like JSTOR, Humanities International Index, or ProQuest Arts are good for any of the fine arts.

Others are more specific – ones like International Index to Performing Arts, Film Index International, Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Online, or International Index to Music Periodicals are all excellent choices.  And the Oxford databases – Oxford Art Online and Oxford Music Online – include detailed artist biographies (and extensive galleries of artwork), in addition to articles on theory, technique, style, or time period.  They also have digitized versions of major reference sources like Grove Dictionary of Art, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, the Grove Dictionary of Music, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, The Oxford Companion to Music, and the Encyclopedia of Popular Music.  All of our arts databases are listed here.

oxford art online

So, if we had a question about technique like “What prompted the use of metal plates in the development of intaglio printmaking?” we might form a search like this:

(intaglio OR engrav*) AND (history OR develop*) AND (plate* OR copper OR zinc)

You can see that we are searching for the three main concepts in the question, although we are using several synonyms to make sure we don’t miss good articles.  We would use the same structure for a question about a person or artwork as well – so if our question was “What were some of the effects of the ‘Mighty Five’ group of composers on Russian music (but not their effect on music elsewhere in Europe)?” this would be a good search:

(mighty five OR russian five OR balakirev circle) AND (music* OR compos* OR symphony) NOT europ*

Russian Five

Although it looks more time-consuming to type in a search this way, the quality of your results will be much closer to what you want than just typing “intaglio” or “mighty five” and hoping for the best – so you’ll save a lot of time searching through irrelevant results.

But, of course, the study of fine art has needs that are unique to the discipline – after all, of what value is a three thousand word essay on a symphony or piece of artwork, if you can’t hear or see it?  So there are several special sources for this type of material.


Looking at an artwork in sufficient detail is critical to art appreciation and criticism, and finding good examples can improve your art papers and your own understanding of an artist or movement.  Aside from the galleries in databases like Oxford Art Online, there are a number of free image searches on the web, and many of the major search engines have dedicated picture modules.  Chances are, you’ve already used something like Google Image Search, Bing Images, or PicSearch – all three allow you to limit to only large, high-resolution images.  Or, try something more experimental and ‘draw’ your search with Retrievr.  And if you already have a low-resolution image and want to find a better version of it, Google Image Search, Retrievr, and TinEye allow you to upload a picture (or supply a URL to one already online) and look to see if a larger version of it is available elsewhere on the web.



While you’ve no doubt listened to many popular songs on YouTube, there’s a lot of material that is much harder to find, especially for composers that are not part of modern pop culture.  Naxos Music Library is a great resource for full audio for classical music – the NML is the largest online classical music database in the world. Currently, it offers streaming access to almost 100,000 CDs with nearly 1.5 million tracks, including a staggering number or rare or out-of-print songs. Hundreds of new CDs are added every month.  Chances are, if you are studying music, you’ll spend a lot of time with this database.


Sometimes you need to play a piece of music yourself, or see exactly how the notes are arranged.  Sheet music is ideal for this.  Library Music Source is one database for this, featuring hundreds of thousands of pages of classical music, which can be downloaded in PDF.  But there are other, more specialized collections, too – if you need American music, the Library of Congress offers tens of thousands of songs in a variety of historical periods. Other sources of sheet music available freely online include the Julliard School’s manuscript collection and Music Scores.  They are less comprehensive, but can still be valuable tools in your music scholarship.

With so many fine arts databases available to you, you’ll be able to do great research for any project.  But if you have any questions, please contact us at!

History Questions

June 30th, 2014

Over the course of the summer, we have been looking at how to perform high quality, academic research in all of the major disciplines IU East teaches.  While we started with general techniques usable in any research, that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  Each area of study has its own quirks and special types of knowledge, and we want you to be good at whatever type of scholarship you choose to major in.  This week, we’ll dig into the study of history.

History is an area of scholarship with a broad scope – you might be researching something that happened five years ago, or five thousand.  Few other subjects have as wide of potential range.  Fortunately, there are a lot of great places to look.  For research articles, there are general databases like JSTOR or Modern World History Online, or period-specific ones that run the gamut with subjects like America History and Life, Ancient and Medieval History Online, Black Thought and Culture, Early Encounters in North America, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Iraq, 1914-1974: The Middle East Online, Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive, and numerous ebooks, as well.  All of our history-related databases can be found here.

So, if we had a question like “How were prisoners of war treated in the American Revolution?”  First, we’d pick a general database or an American history one like America History and Life.  Then, we would put together a search like this:

(“revolutionary war” OR “american war” OR “american revolution”) AND (prisoner* OR captive*) AND (treatment OR welfare OR well being)

american revolution prisoners of war from library of congress

As you can see, we are looking for three different concepts, and have included synonyms for each one, in case if the author uses an unexpected term.  The syntax we used is described in more detail in the general techniques.  It’s a little more complicated, but starting your search like this pays off in a big way.  Just typing “american revolution prisoners of war” and hoping for the best will turn up a few things, but not much – we get a lot better results with our search words.

But there are plenty of other, more esoteric history sources, as well.  And the study of history has many special demands


Primary sources are things that were written directly by a participant, rather than information that comes second-hand from interviewing or study.  They are crucial for understanding people in a distant and unfamiliar time period, because good scholars don’t depend on what others say about a culture – they look at the primary evidence themselves.  They can include letters, diaries, personal notes, oral histories, and more, and depending on the time period you are studying, there may be many of them, or very few.  Like with research databases, some repositories for primary sources are general, and some focus on one issue or time period.  But we have a lot of them to choose from – databases like African-American History Online, American Civil War: Letters and Diaries, American Indian History Online, American Women’s History Online, British and Irish Women’s Letters and Diaries, Modern World History Online, Oral History Online, North American Immigrant Letters & Diaries, and Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 are all examples of databases partially or completely dedicated to primary sources.


Along with primary sources, historical newspapers represent an irreplaceable window to the thoughts and feelings of people in a given era of time.  Unlike some other types of primary sources, they have an immediacy to them, because they were written as events occurred rather than after a long period of reflection.  Seeing how people’s understanding of an event changed over time can be exceptionally illuminating.  Databases available for historical newspapers include 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, 19th Century U.S. Newspapers, British Newspapers 1600-1900, British Periodicals 1 & 2, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Historical Newspapers: New York Times, Illustrated London News Historical Archive-1842-2003, Picture Post Historical Archive, and PIO – Periodicals Index Online.  While we have a few other large newspaper databases, like Newspaper Source and News and Newspapers, those two are more focused on current newspapers, and less on historical ones.

historic newspaper


Sometimes, videos and documentaries are helpful for familiarizing yourself with a topic, especially if there is a strong visual or kinesthetic component involved in understanding your research subject (for example, if you are studying the use of dance in a given culture, a video will be much more useful than an article).  We have several databases dedicated to films on history topics, including World History in Video, American History in Video, and VAST.  They include documentaries, news programs, interviews, and more.  Many have full, interactive transcripts that make it easy to follow along or skip ahead to a section of interest to you.  You can search by keyword, type, or historical event.

With so many history tools at your disposal, you’ll be able to do better research in a fraction of the time.  But if you have any questions, please contact us at!