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AAS 6010: Research Methods: Finding Empirical Articles (Sarita Davis: Fall 2023): Searching for Scholarly Articles

Example: Searching in Academic Search Complete

Using Advanced Search in a database will let you search using multiple terms, like this:

What’s with all those terms in the second box?

Using OR will bring up results that include EITHER search term. These terms, connected by OR, will bring up results that use “african american*” OR “black*” – covering your bases. If one article one article uses “African American” throughout and a different one uses “Black” throughout, this search will bring up both articles. (See the Using Boolean Operators handout for more information on AND, OR, and NOT)

What is that asterisk doing there??

It’s called a “truncation symbol” and it just means that the search will pull up all words starting with “african american” (so, African American and African-Americans both, and black, blacks, and blackness for black*).

Because there is no way to search in most databases (EXCEPT APA PsycINFO) for empirical articles specifically, try using terms that may point to empirical methodologies. For example, see the third box here: 

Other terms you could try (you can add them to the string in the third box using "OR"):

  • hypothesis
  • method
  • design
  • patterns

You will likely come up with other relevant search terms as your research progresses:

  • terms that relate to the content of your topic
  • terms that relate to the methods used to study that topic

* * * * *

One box that you SHOULD NOT CHECK is the "Full Text" box. Sounds backwards, I know, but here's why:

Many databases will give you only the citation for a particular article and not the full text.

But! We have lots of databases, and the article that you need may be in a different database.

If you find an article that you want, and it looks like we don't have full text, click the blue "Find It @ GSU" button. That button will point you to the article if it's held in another database, or will help you set up an Interlibrary Loan for the article. You can also start an Interlibrary Loan request by clicking here and entering citation information. 

If you check the "Full Text" box in a database, you're actually saying that you only want articles which that particular database has available in "full text." You're shutting off that "Find It @ GSU" option.

Interdisciplinary Article Databases

These databases cover a broad range of disciplines.

Be sure to select the "Scholarly/Peer Reviewed" option where available (usually on the Advanced Search page).

Race Relations Abstracts will also cover a range of disciplines, though you may also want to try more subject-specific databases for more in-depth disciplinary coverage.

Is Your Topic Historical, Literary, Artistic?

Scholars in arts and humanities fields often do not use empirical methods (different fields, different methodologies). 

If you are looking for empirical articles in one of these subject areas, try including keywords like "quantitative," "hypothesis" etc. in these databases.

However, you may not find empirical articles on topics in these areas, and you may need to reorient your topic in a way that would make it addressable empirically. 

For these kinds of topics, it may also be helpful to start with a very broad interdisciplinary database like Academic Search Complete or JSTOR.

It can also be helpful to broaden your topic somewhat and try searching using broader terms in the social sciences databases listed to the left. (For example, try searching on a more generalized topic like "African-American art" in, for example, Sociological Abstracts or in APA PsycINFO to see if any useful results come up). 

Below are some of the main databases for arts and humanities topic (hover over a database title for more information).

Social Science Databases

These databases focus on specific social-science disciplines. To search more broadly, try the databases in the "General Articles Databases" box.

You can also use the dropdown "Find by Subject" box in the Articles / Databases tab to identify relevant databases by subject.

Hover over a database's title for more information.

Finding Dissertations

ProQuest's Dissertations and Theses will include listings for PhD dissertations and theses:

If you find a citation/abstract (that is, summary) for a useful-sounding dissertation in this database, you can also try googling the dissertation to see if it is available through the degree-awarding university's institutional repository.

GSU also has an institutional repository (called ScholarWorks) where graduate students are required to deposit their electronic resources. This means that you can also look at examples of GSU theses -- including MA theses -- if you want to. Click here to see AAS MA theses!

**You can also submit presentations or papers to ScholarWorks for people around the world to download and read! See the ScholarWorks page for information about submitting your materials.**

If you can't find a freely online version (that is, an institutional repository version) of a dissertation online, you can request a paper copy via Interlibrary Loan via the Dissertations & Abstracts database (look for the blue "Find It @ GSU" button).

Africana Studies Librarian / Humanities Instruction Librarian

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Leslie Madden
Library South
Suite 542

Searching Tips

   to search names as a phrase | ex: "anderson cooper"

   as a wild card | ex: wom*n

AND between words to NARROW results | ex: media AND healthcare

OR between words to EXPAND results | ex: African American OR Black

Why APA PsycINFO is Special...

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."

Getting the full article

1) First, look for a direct link to the article. Specifically, look for links that say "HTML Full Text" or "PDF Full Text."
2) If you don't see one of these links, look for a button next to article you want. Clicking this button will check for full text availability outside of the database you are currently searching. A new window will open and depending on what full text formats are available through the library, you will be see several link options:
Full Text Online
Means that electronic full text of the article is available from one of GSU Library's full text providers. Click this link to proceed to full text provider's site where you will look for a link to the article. If you are off campus, you will probably be asked for your CampusID/password. Once on the full text provider site, you may need to "drill down" to a specific volume/issue to access full text.
We May Have a Copy in Print
If this link appears as the first option, then no electronic full text is available. However, the library may have a print copy of the article. Clicking this link will search the GSU Library catalog, GIL, to see if the library owns any print volumes of the journal in which the article is published. If so, you will need to check the Recent Issues or Volumes Owned fields to see what volumes/issues are available.
Request This Item Through Interlibrary Loan
If neither electronic nor print access is available at GSU Library, you can click this link to access Illiad, GSU Library's system for requesting articles (and other materials) from other libraries. This service is free for GSU students/employees.
Occasionally, people encounter problems trying to access articles from home using the "Find It @ GSU" button. Sometimes pop-up blockers prevent the "Find It" window from opening, so check your browser settings.

Desktop Delivery Service

If you come across an article or an essay/book chapter that the library only has in print, you can use our Desktop Delivery service to request an electronic version of the article or book chapter.

This service is currently available to all GSU faculty, students, and staff.* For information about how to place a Desktop Delivery request, click here

*Faculty, graduate students, and university administrators can also request electronic copies of materials that we have on microfilm.