Brainstorm possible search terms for your topic. You may need to simplify long phrases by breaking them up into separate search terms or smaller phrases.
Consult background information. Specialized encyclopedias, dictionaries and guides are a great time saving tool. Many of these are located in the Reference Collection on Library North 2.
These sources provide topical overviews, summarize basic concepts, and are filled with names and events you can use as keywords in your searching. Many encyclopedia articles also include carefully selected bibliographies that will lead you to additional resources.
ANDs, ORs and NOTs. You will need to combine your search terms with connecting terms (called "Boolean operators"), such as AND and OR. Use AND between terms to narrow a search and OR between terms to broaden a search.
Remember that African American studies is interdisciplinary. Check out the research guides for related topics, such as
Be flexible as you settle on a final topic. Do a few preliminary searches in the library catalog or article databases before commiting to a topic. Make sure you can locate primary sources. You may find you need to narrow or broaden your focus.
Cite as you go. Even if you're not sure whether you will use a source, it's much easier to note the citation information up front than to decide you need it later!
For this assignment you will need to find an article that reviews empirical literature or an empirical article.
What is an empirical article?
An empirical article reports on research conducted by the authors. The research can be based on observations or experiments.
What types of research make an article empirical?
An empirical article may report a study that used quantitative research methods, which generate numerical data and seek to establish causal relationships between two or more variables. They may also report on a study that uses qualitative research methods, which objectively and critically analyze behaviors, beliefs, feelings, or values with few or no numerical data available for analysis
How can I tell if an article is empirical?
How can I search for these articles?
There is no quick way to limit your searches only to articles that review empirical studies (or to empirical studies themselves). You will have to do keyword/subject term searches, then review article abstracts in order to determine the nature of each.
Why am I not finding empirical articles on my topic?
Scholars in arts and humanities fields use research methodologies that tend not to be identified as empirical. If you are working on a topic that aligns with one of these areas, you may need to rework your research question/thesis in a way that will align with empirical research questions. Consult your professor for help with doing this.
(CC image @ http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2549/4074611525_e2de3e9e9e.jpg)
Created by Sarah Steiner, GSU's former Social Work Librarian and used with her permission; adapted.
Most databases (except for APA PsycINFO!) don't have a way to search by whether or not an article uses empirical research. For this assignment, your best bet is to
It will be up to you to determine whether or not an article is based on empirical research.
These searching strategies can help; but except for APA PsycINFO, most databases don't have a way to limit your search by "empiricalness."
If you’re unsure of which subject database to search in, try Academic Search Complete. This database covers a wide range of topics, and will include both scholarly and popular magazines, so:
We offer live virtual reference assistance on weekdays. To get started, use the from the Live Assistance box on the library's homepage.
(note: this is just a picture -- go to http://library.gsu.edu to start a chat session)
You can email yourself a transcript of your chat session (helpful if the response included links)
Clicking on "Or search for an answer" will take you to a list of frequently asked questions that may also give you the answer you need.
Unlike most other article databases, APA PsycINFO's Advanced Search page gives you the option of limiting your search to empirically based articles.
In the dropdown box marked "Methodology," select "EMPIRICAL STUDY."