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CME 6130 - Social Policy for Children + Family (McAdams)


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Tip #1: Take time to really think about your topic. Break it down into key concepts. Connect key concepts with Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) in order to make search statements.

Tip #2: It is important to use synonyms or related words when you search by keyword. Those additional terms will help broaden your search. Use a databases' thesaurus feature, or a reference source to help you locate additional subject terms for the concepts you are researching.

Tip #3: Finding statistics and datasets can be challenging. Start by browsing some of the statistical sources listed on your guide. Many of these resources collect and disseminate huge collections of social policy-related data, produced by the United States federal government, other agencies, and associations in the field.

Tip #4: Google Scholar and MACKsearch are great discovery tools! Use them in addition to searching McQuade's databases. If you are off campus you will need to set your Scholar Preferences so that Google will provide a link to material that McQuade owns.

Tip #5: Why not search directly in a specific mental health journal? See course guide for a sampling, or ask your professor for some recommendations. Run some searches specifically in those journals in addition to searching in databases.

Tip #6: When doing a comprehensive review of the literature: "backwards is forward." Look at the bibliography or works listed in quality articles and books that you find and follow that trail to locate more information!

Tip #7: If the article you want is not available in the online databases, you can request it through Interlibrary Loan. These requests can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to arrive, depending on where the lending library is located and how the items are sent. Plan ahead!

Tip #8: An exhaustive literature search should eventually bring you to the point where you are seeing the same key articles, books, and papers cited over and over again.

Tip #9: Keep track of the sources you find and where you find them. Most databases we subscribe to offer citation generation, saving, and/or export functions. The library offers citation management tools such NoodleBib.

Tip #10: Don't hesitate to talk with a librarian at any point in the research process – set up an appointment.

What's an Empirical Article?

How to Recognize Empirical Literature

Definition of an empirical study: An empirical research article reports the results of a study that uses data derived from actual observation or experimentation. Empirical research articles are examples of primary research.

Parts of a standard empirical research article: (articles will not necessary use the exact terms listed below.)

  • Abstract ... A paragraph-length description of what the study includes.
  • Introduction...Includes a statement of the hypotheses for the research and a review of other research on the topic.
  • Method ...A description of how the research was conducted, such as:
             ◊ Who are participants
             ◊  Design of the study 
             ◊  What the participants did 
             ◊  What measures were used
  • Results...Describes the outcomes of the measures of the study.
  • Discussion...Contains the interpretations and implications of the study.
  • References...Contains citation information on the material cited in the report. (also called bibliography or works cited)

Characteristics of an Empirical Article:

  • Empirical articles will include charts, graphs, or statistical analysis.
  • Empirical research articles are usually substantial, maybe from 8-30 pages long.
  • There is always a bibliography found at the end of the article.

Type of publications that publish empirical studies:

  • Empirical research articles are published in scholarly or academic journals
    These journals are also called “peer-reviewed,” or “refereed” publications.

Databases that contain empirical research: (selected list only)

  • MACKsearch add these words to your search terms: 
    method* or
     research or research design or survey* or data or result*
  • PsycINFO limit your searches by Form/Content Type to Empirical Study
  • ERIC limit to Pub. Type to Reports - Research/Technical
    Change one dropdown box to Record. This finds REPORTS--RESEARCH.