SWOT did you say?

All you business researchers out there know the value of a good SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. Not only is conducting a SWOT analysis useful in the strategic planning process, but reading analyses for other companies can offer the business researcher added insight. But, where do you find them?

One great place to check is the LexisNexis Academic database.  Let’s be honest though…sometimes LexisNexis might not feel like the most user-friendly tool. Allow your librarians to reduce the confusion by offering some straight-forward steps you can follow the next time you want to search for a SWOT analysis for a particular company.

Step 1: Follow the ‘databases’ link on the main library website and select LexisNexis from the alphabetical list.

Step 2: Once you’re connected, click on ‘Search by Subject or Topic’ near the top of the screen to reveal a menu.  In the section labeled ‘Companies’ select ‘Company Profiles’:


Click image to enlarge.

Step 3: Just below the search box, follow the link to ‘Advanced Options’.  This will open a new search interface where we can use some fancy syntax to search specifically for SWOT analyses. (Also, the text above the search box should now say ‘Company Profiles Search’):


Click image to enlarge.

Step 4: Here’s where it might start to feel a little confusing. Using the new search area we’re going to build what LexisNexis likes to call a “segment search”.  In reality, we are just going to specify the search fields we want to use–just like when you choose to search for ‘author’ or ‘title’ in other databases.  The big difference here is that the names of the fields are quite different.

Part 1: Specify a company.  In the ‘Segment Search’ box, the first thing we want to do is specify what company you are interested in.  To do that, you can either use the drop-down menu to select ‘Company’ or you can simply type in the word: COMPANY.  (Company is the search field in this case).  Now, in parentheses, type in the name of the company:


Click image to enlarge.

Part 2: Specify that you want a SWOT analysis. Now we need to tell LexisNexis that you are interested in finding a SWOT analysis for this company. First, type in the word ‘and’ after the company you specified. Next, either use the drop-down menu to select ‘Publication’ or simply type in the word: PUBLICATION. (Publication is also considered a search field). Now, in parentheses, just type in the word ‘swot’:


Click image to enlarge.

There you have it.  Although it might feel a bit strange, you are really just specifying search fields and plugging in the corresponding information. In this example, I wanted to find ‘Starbucks’ in the company field and anything related to ‘SWOT’ in the publication field. Now just press ‘Apply’ and the main search box will auto-fill with the text you entered:


Click image to enlarge.

The results page will show you any existing SWOT analyses for your company of interest. Be sure to pay attention to the publication dates as well as the companies who conducted the analyses–these can both be interesting points of comparison. To read an analysis, just click on its link in the results page:


Click image to enlarge.

Of course, you will only be able to find analyses for companies about which LexisNexis has some data.  However, many companies are present so it is certainly worth a look!

We hope these steps will make it a bit easier to find what you need. Remember you can always contact the library for help.

Happy Searching!

My thanks to Earnrolyn at LexisNexis for her ‘business research’ webinar which first introduced me to this wonderful tip!

Annual Reviews: Keeping current with timely, critical research reviews

We live in an exciting time with access to TONS of information about anything and everything…hence the popular phrase: ‘information overload’. Case in point, there seems to be some irony in this Google search:

Google search for 'information overload'

Search results retrieved 10/14/15.


Of course there are some, such as Clay Shirky, who argue that the problem is not necessarily information overload, but rather “filter failure” (he made this point during his keynote address at the Web 2.0 Expo back in 2008).  Since the cost of publishing and producing content is so low nowadays, there is no check on the content’s quality.  Hence, tons of information is ‘out there’, but we don’t always have the best tools and systems to filter through it and know where to devote our energy.

Unsurprisingly, people who are able to access subscription resources (like library databases) have a leg up in that they at least can access a collection of peer-reviewed materials, vetted by a specific process, and as such deemed more credible in the academic world. But even then, there is so much content to sift through!

How do you know the primary contributors to your field of study? What are the recent research trends?

One useful resource in Fielding’s library to help answer some of these questions is a collection of journals called ‘Annual Reviews‘.  As they explain on their ‘overview’ page, Annual Reviews “critically reviews the most significant primary research literature to guide researchers to the principal contributions of their field and help them keep up to date in their area of research.” Reviews in each subject area are-yes, you guessed it-published annually.

While Fielding’s subscription does not include all subjects covered by Annual Reviews, it does encompass the major subject areas most pertinent to our programs of study.  These include:

  • Anthropology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Environment and Resources
  • Law and Social Science
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Public Health
  • Sociology

So how can you access and take advantage of these little gems?

Easy! Simply follow the ‘databases’ link on the main library website and select ‘Annual Reviews’ from the alphabetical list:



Once connected, navigate to the ‘browse journals’ section in the center of the page.  Any journal identified with a green check mark is available to you–just click on the title to connect to its content:


After you select a journal you can take advantage of many features.  Of course, you can view the content of the latest issue (or select to view past issues) and connect to full-text.  You can also use some handy tools such as the ‘most cited reviews’ or ‘featured reviews’ to discover some of the publication’s most popular content.


When viewing the full-text HTML version of an article (when available) you can access additional features such as viewing figures, related reviews, and more.

Annual Reviews, as most journals and databases, also allows you to sign up to receive alerts when new articles or tables of contents are published.

Want to learn more?  Check out the Annual Reviews Tutorials page to access video, PDF, and PowerPoint tutorials on navigating this collection.

Whether you want to keep informed of the latest research in your field, or gain some background information in a certain discipline, be sure to add Annual Reviews to your list of resources to consult. They have done much of the work of filtering through the loads of information related to a particular subject, allowing you to focus on the highlights, major discoveries, and trends.

Happy Searching!

More than you ever wanted to know about searching in PubMed

Searching for and discovering literature in the medical field can sometimes be a bit different from searching for works in other disciplines. With all of that medical jargon, how do you know where to begin and what terms to use?

Medical Library

Image by roseflreising. CC license here.

One of the best resources available for medical research within Fielding’s Library is the PubMed database. While PubMed is freely available on the web, connecting through the library will allow you to link out to more full-text options when available.

So, what exactly is PubMed?  Well, in their own words: “PubMed comprises nearly 25 million citations for biomedical literature…”.  As explained on their FAQs page, PubMed includes citations for works “covering portions of the life sciences, behavioral sciences, chemical sciences, and bioengineering.”  I’ve worked with users who have utilized PubMed to find literature related to chronic pain, massage therapy, animal assisted therapy, prostate cancer, and more.

Let’s chat about one important search strategy and some resources which will help you make the most of this database.

Search Strategy–Medical Subject Headings

One of the largest barriers to conducting research in the medical field can be determining the best search terms. As we all know, medical terminology can be a bit convoluted and not necessarily easy to predict. In fact, special terms known as ‘Medical Subject Headings’ (a.k.a. MeSH terms) exist to help classify and make medical works find-able.

Utilizing MeSH terms in a PubMed search is an excellent strategy to help you find highly relevant materials.  The problem?  Well…figuring out what MeSH terms actually exist on your topic.



Image by Walt Stonburner. CC license here.

Lucky for us, the National Library of Medicine has created a ‘MeSH browser‘ which makes this task a lot easier.  Let’s work through a simple example.

In this scenario, let’s say I am trying to find some studies regarding anti-anxiety treatments for adolescents.

Once I cruise on over to the MeSH browser, the first thing I will do is input one of the major terms I’m interested in, such as ‘anti-anxiety’:

Image of MeSH browser

Click image to enlarge

The next page will show me possible MeSH matches for my subject of interest (*Note: I used the ‘find exact term’ search option):

Sample results page from MeSH search

Click image to enlarge


Let’s pause for a moment….that page looks weird doesn’t it?  Since I asked the browser to find exact term matches, it has returned a list of terms which all satisfy this criteria.  I was interested in anti-anxiety treatment, so let’s click on “Anti-Anxiety Drugs” to see what happens:

Official heading entry

Click image to enlarge

Whoa Nelly!  What’s up with this page?  There’s a lot of information to sort through here, but I’ve circled the three most important pieces in yellow.

First, the MeSH Heading. Even though I clicked on ‘anti-anxiety drugs’, I was directed to a page where the official heading is ‘Anti-Anxiety Agents’.  Since I am interested in anti-anxiety treatment options, this is likely the best term for my research.

Second, the Scope Note.  If you’re not sure if the official heading is appropriate to your research, check out the scope note. This note is meant to describe what is encompassed in the use of this heading. It will often also say what is not included in case this affects your choice of terms.

Third, the See Also terms.  The list of ‘see also’ terms is showing some options for related MeSH Headings.  For instance, there is a MeSH term for ‘anxiety disorders’.  If my first search strategy does not work out, I may want to run some additional searches with these other headings to see how they affect my results.

I repeated this strategy for my population of interest, ‘adolescents’, and discovered that the MeSH heading for that term is simply: adolescent.

Now that I have some terms at the ready, I will hop back on over to the PubMed Advanced search screen and plug them in like so:

Sample PubMed Search

Click image to enlarge.

This search found me a whopping 1300 results.  From here, I can use the filters on the left side of the screen to narrow them down.  I can also use the ‘see similar articles’ link below any article to help me focus on a particular sub-set of documents.  Likewise, it’s always easy to revise the search and add in a keyword or additional MeSH heading.  As with any research, you may need to test out a few keywords, MeSH terms, and combinations to see which yield the best results.

Search results page.

Click image to enlarge

Now, do yourself a favor and take a long sip of coffee, you deserve it.

More Resources

There obviously can be A LOT to learn about databases like PubMed.  We’ll link you out to some useful resources to help you learn more about making the most of this tool:

Publishing in Medical Journals

When publishing articles in some medical journals, they will ask that your references use the ‘Index Medicus’ abbreviations for journals. Index What-i-cus? Here’s a handy tool to help:

Many citation managers such as Zotero or EndNote also offer the ability to create Index Medicus formatted references. Be sure to consult their help resources to find out how.

Happy Searching!

What is LexisNexis all about anyway?

You blog readers may recall that we did a post a few months back about locating newspaper content (click here for a refresher) in LexisNexis and other resources.  However, it occurred to your friendly Fielding librarian that perhaps you may be curious to know what else LexisNexis can do.

Aside from its catchy, rhyming name, LexisNexis will appeal to researchers looking for newspaper articles, legal information such as federal and state cases, and business information like company profiles, dossiers and more.

While this database is chock-full of useful information, it can feel a little confusing to navigate at first. Fear not!  Your librarians will shush your fears and show you some navigation basics, not to mention offer links out to additional help resources.

librarian shushing monster

Image by Michael Sauers. CC license here.

Navigating 101: Search by Content Type

Once you’ve deftly connected to LexisNexis via the ‘databases’ link on the library website, one of the most helpful things you can do is use the ‘search by content type’ feature.  As you may have guessed, this feature will allow you to limit your searches to specific content such as newspaper articles or legal statutes, helping you narrow in on relevant content more quickly.


Step one is simply to click on the text above the search box which reads ‘search by content type’.  This will reveal a drop-down menu from which you can make a selection:



And voila! Once you click on a link, your content type has been selected.  How do you know it worked?  On the main search page the text above the search box will change to match the content type you selected:


Navigating 101: Advanced Search Options

Once you’ve selected a content type, you can proceed in a few ways.  In some cases, you may want to immediately input some keywords and look at the results.  In that case, it’s as easy as plugging your search terms into the search box.

On other occasions, particularly if you are looking for very specific legal information, you may still want to make further refinements. If ever you want to make more refinements, or just see what other refinements are available to you, select the ‘advanced options’ text just below the search box.

(**Note: Some of the advanced options available to you change depending on the type of content you selected.  You may see one set of options available for legal research, another set available for company profiles, etc.)



Regardless of the content type you have chosen, you will always see the ‘Date’ and ‘Build your own segment search’ options available.  While ‘date’ is self-explanatory, the ‘build your own’ portion of the screen seems a bit more daunting.  This really moves beyond a ‘basics of navigating’ post, so I will offer a brief explanation below (skip it if it’s too much detail!).

(In the simplest terms, the ‘build your own’ option allows you to specify a portion of the document to search within.  For example, you may choose ‘Headline’ and then enter a keyword you want to find in the news articles’ headline. It also allows you to use Boolean operators to search for content in multiple sections of the document.  LexisNexis’ into video tutorial touches on this briefly, see here for more detail. )

In the example above, since I have chosen ‘federal statues and regulations’, the additional option I have is to choose the source I would like to search.  For now, I have selected only to search ‘Public Laws’.  Make sure to press the ‘Apply’ button so your changes take effect!

Navigating 101: Enter terms and press ‘search’/reading the results page

The final step is simply to enter in my search terms.  Now that I’ve narrowed in on the content type and source I’m interested in, I can focus on entering keywords related to my research topic, like so:


For those new to LexisNexis, the results page can seem a little…strange. While the results are listed in the center, there is not a ton of information revealed about each result initially.  However, you have some refinement options and other features to help.

The filters along the left side of the page and the ‘search within’ feature along the top of the page will allow you to narrow in on relevant items.  Likewise, you can use the drop-down menu labeled ‘Show’ to alter how much detail you see in each result; even though it defaults to ‘list’, you may want to change it to ‘expanded list’ to see more:


Click image to enlarge.

From here, as you know so well, the work becomes looking through the results and determining which will be useful in your research.

WHEW! There is always a lot to cover when considering a new database.  Check out some of LexisNexis’ help materials below to learn more:

Though it goes without saying, you can always contact a librarian for assistance.  Happy searching!

Fielding Dissertations: how to find more with less

Scenario: Imagine you are delving into your research and your advisor (or colleague, fellow student, faculty member, or someone otherwise wishing to assist you) says something to the effect of, “A few years ago a student in the ELC program wrote their dissertation about a related field–you should really take a look”.

Confused looking at puzzle pieces

Photo by David Goehring. CC license here.

We can probably all agree that this scenario is sort of like being given a few pieces to a possibly valuable puzzle.  We know this was a Fielding student dissertation, that the student was in ELC, and that the work was probably published in the last few years.

So how do we put this puzzle together without some of the key pieces such as, oh I don’t know, the author, dissertation title, or publication year?

First, we do not give up.  Second, we recall that the Fielding Library provides us access to a database (predictably) titled: Dissertations & Theses @ Fielding Graduate University (linked from the main library website or from the ‘databases’ link).

But, what do we do when we get there?  Let’s take a look at some search features which you may not have been aware of, but which can be immensely helpful in your research.

Search by Department/Program

Here at the library it is not uncommon for us to receive questions regarding how to filter dissertation results by program for varying reason.  Some students are piecing together a puzzle similar to that mentioned above while others are simply trying to see the types of topics covered by a certain program over the last 2, 5, or 10 years.

Whatever your reason, the easiest way to accomplish this is to use the drop-down menu on the advanced search screen to change the search field to ‘Department’:

screenshot of searchable fields


Here’s the part that gets a little trickier: there can be some slight variations in the way a department is listed.  For example, some dissertations may list their department as “educational leadership for change” whereas others may list “educational leadership and change”.  To avoid these pitfalls, simply search for the main words in a department or program’s name  (i.e. educational leadership change; human organizational development; etc.).  For example, here is what the search would look like within the database:

sample search by department


Easy peasy!  Of course…if we do nothing else then this search may retrieve quite a few results.  We may want to narrow in on a certain period of time before searching.

Search by Date Range

To make specifications related to publication date, we will just need to scroll down a little ways to the portion of the screen labeled ‘Search Options’.  Here we will find a handy ‘publication date’ drop-down menu:

publication date drop-down menu


It’s as simple as selecting one of the pre-set ranges, or choosing ‘specific date range’ and inputting a range of our choosing.  If we follow the scenario at the beginning of the post, I would likely either choose ‘Last 5 years’ or enter a custom range for the last three years.

In the case of our scenario, at this point we would likely scroll back up to the top of the screen and add in a keyword or two to narrow in a little further on the topic.  However, we could also simply run the search after choosing the program and date range then scroll through the available options to see what’s there.

Search by Advisor

There have also been times when a student or faculty member knew who served as the advisor for a dissertation, but could not recall its title or author.  Lucky for us, we can search by advisor!

To do so, just scroll back to the ‘Search Options’ section.  You can either input an advisor name in the search box, or, if you are perhaps unsure of spelling or name variations, you can use the ‘Look up advisors’ link to search through the options:

advisor look up section


While those tips cover the most frequently asked questions related to Fielding dissertations, they certainly do not cover all the ways you can search in this database.  Be sure to explore the other search fields and search options to see what else is available.  You can always contact the library or consult the database’s ‘help’ function to learn more.

Happy Searching!

Another ‘handy’ collection to enhance your research

Riddle me this blog-readers, what do the following things have in common?

  • Creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship
  • Evolutionary perspectives on violence, homicide, and war
  • Hoarding and acquiring
  • Clinical geropsychology
  • Developmental behavioral neuroscience

If you answered ‘they are all interests of someone you would find at my family reunion’, I would say that you must have quite the fascinating family….

The Awkward Family Photos Book

Photo posted by wicker paradise. CC license here.


But, that’s incorrect. The real answer is that these are all titles found within the Oxford Handbooks Online Psychology collection.

If you’ve ever found yourself wishing for a collection of scholarly research reviews focused on a specific topic, chock-full of high-level articles from top scholars in the field, then you may want to check out some of these works.  The Fielding Library subscribes to the psychology collection which contains 117 handbook titles containing 4,784 articles in total.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that the collection includes the word ‘psychology’ in the title. Of course, many handbooks address topics specific to psychology, but these works cover a broad range of subject matter that could be of interest to someone from any of the programs Fielding offers. Consider some of these possible research scenarios….

  • Researching pathological gambling?  Check out the Handbook on Impulse Control Disorders.
  • Curious about the biological factors underlying behavior?  Head on over the recently published Handbook of Molecular Psychology.
  • Got your eye on organizational culture? Maybe you should explore the unique Handbook of Organizational Socialization.
  • Grappling with varying counseling techniques for clients from diverse economic backgrounds? You might be interested in the Handbook of Social Class in Counseling.

Alright, alright, you get the idea. Of course, in addition to those specific examples, there are many handbooks that deal with other straightforward topics such as leadership, clinical psychology, neuroscience, media psychology, development (in children and adults), and more, so you have tons of reading material at your fingertips!

signpost saying i love books

Image by Enokson. CC license here.

So, how can you get your hands on these little gems?

First, as with all great hidden gems, you will follow the ‘databases’ link on the main library website.

From there you will dexterously scroll down through the alphabetical list until you land on: Oxford Handbooks Online Psychology.

Once connected to the database, you will initially see the list of 117 Handbook titles.  If you’re not sure what’s here, you may want to scroll through some titles to get an idea.  Remember, these titles are comprised of nearly 5,000 individual articles, so there is A LOT of content here.

Given all that content, you may want to use the ‘search within’ function to locate the material most closely aligned with your research interests.  One important word of caution here: there are two search boxes on the screen.  Using the box along the left-hand side of the screen will search within the collection of psychology handbooks and thus within the collection that Fielding users have full-text access to.  If you use the box at the top of the screen, it will search all of the Oxford Handbooks collection, including items Fielding does not have access to (basically: it will likely frustrate and annoy you).  However, if you did just want to see what else was out there, you may want to use that option.  Here’s a screenshot to orient you:



There you have it.  Next time you want to look through some scholarly research reviews related to your topic, hop on over to see if there’s a ‘handy’ handbook title or article which can help.

Free Samples!

Free hugs

Image by Matthew G. CC license here.

Okay, you caught me…the library is not giving out free hugs (although after how busy Summer Session was perhaps it’s not a bad idea).

This ‘free samples’ post actually refers to finding sample survey instruments, interview questions, questionnaires, and so on.  A post we did not too long ago, Test It Out, covered some of the key steps in finding studies which employed certain tests or measures (hooray!).  But today’s post focuses on a way to find actual survey and interview questions…which can be a bit tricky.

As you probably know, scholarly articles do not typically publish appendices revealing the survey/interview questions used in obtaining results.  So what do you do when your advisor directs you to “find some sample questions” other academics have used?

Laptop on fire

Image by Chris Pawluk. CC license here.

First, you resist the urge to set fire to your laptop.  Second, you cruise on over to the Fielding library website and connect to the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global database (by following the ‘databases’ link on the main library website).

While most scholarly articles do not include the full-text of their survey instruments, dissertations and theses do!  That’s right, as you are well aware, graduate and doctoral students must meticulously account for how and why they achieved the results of their studies. Lucky for you, this means the appendices of these documents are a gold-mine of sample measures.  Let’s head on over to the database to take a look at how this works.

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global

When you connect to the database, you will land on the familiar blank advanced search screen.  If you’ve connected to this database with the intention of finding sample questions–or just sample studies which employ a certain method (i.e. phenomenology, case study, etc.)–the best way to accomplish this goal is to search using a term or two describing your topic and a term describing the type of measure/study you hope to find.

Let’s imagine I’m doing some research into organizational cultures and need to find some sample interview questions.  I may build my search like so:


Click image to enlarge.


Though quite basic, I’ve asked the database to look for the phrase “organizational culture” and the keyword ‘interviews’ anywhere except for in the full-text of the document.  Since the dissertation’s abstract will include a piece about the methodology used, this is a fairly reliable method to employ to find the samples you need.  Here are the first few results this search retrieved (**note, I blacked out the author/institution names since I could not ask for permission to display them):

sample results page

Click image to enlarge.


As you can see underlined in red, each of these works’ abstracts has a portion which explains interviews were used (at least in some capacity) to obtain some data.  From here, I could preview abstracts, select a relevant document, then open the PDF to view the appendix which would contain a copy of the questions employed.

Your particular research topic is likely more specific that just ‘organizational culture’ so remember you can use multiple terms to refine your search.  Let’s do one slightly more refined sample search together for good ‘measure’ (pun intended).

In this case, let’s imagine my research focuses on the use of social media by teenagers and I plan to conduct a case study. I might build my search like so:

screenshot of case study search

Click image to enlarge

Not sure about all that fancy syntax?  Make sure to check out the search tip handout on the ‘Quick Tip Docs’ page for explanations.

In essence, that search asks the database to find the phrase “social media”, to find any one of those terms describing teens or youth or adolescent, and to find the phrase “case study”.  This yielded 17 results total, here’s a sampling:

sample of results page

Click image to enlarge.


And there you have it.  Just another trick to have up your sleeve as you work on your own research.  Hopefully this means that next time you’re asked to find some samples you’ll react like this…

man crossing finish line

Image by meridican. CC license here.

Happy searching!  And remember you can always contact the library with questions (library@fielding.edu).

Cited Reference Searching (Or, The Savvy Researcher’s Strategy)

As your scholarly research becomes more narrowly focused, you will no doubt begin to have more and more trouble finding articles related to your topic. While this is wonderful in that it means you are conducting unique research (Yay!), it is not so wonderful in that it can be difficult to find the requisite sources to complete your lit review (Boo!).  So, where do you go from here?


Image by Lori Greig. CC license here.

One wonderful strategy for tackling this problem (or any research, really) is ‘cited reference searching’.  If you are unfamiliar with the term, it simply means looking at which authors/publications have cited an article related to your field of study. Following citation chains helps you track the scholarly conversation while at the same time freeing you of the need to think of the exact search terms which might elicit such results.

The Fielding Library has a number of resources which can assist you with this type of searching: Google Scholar, Social Sciences Citation Index, and many of the individual databases (such as those made by ProQuest).

Social Sciences Citation Index is a database dedicated exclusively to this type of research. It’s worth becoming familiar with, but requires a bit more depth than a handy blog post can supply. Check out the Fielding Cited Reference Searching LibGuide to learn all about it, Google Scholar, and PsycINFO!

Let’s take a look at a simpler example using Google Scholar.

Imagine you are deep into your research on adolescent involvement in community organizations, but you’re having trouble discovering additional articles. You do have a citation for a wonderful article published in 2008…so why not see who has cited it since?

You head over to Google Scholar, being sure to connect via the library so you can see what results we have in our collection. When you land on the search page, simply copy and paste the full article title in the search box and press search:


Below the article title/description, you will see a convenient little ‘cited by’ link (if the article has been cited). Simply clicking on this link will then display the list of citing articles. Even better, while viewing the citing articles, you can select to ‘search within’ them to find those most related to your topic:


‘Search within’ is a wonderful tool, particularly when you are viewing lists of dozens or even hundreds of citing articles.

As a quick recap, one of the greatest benefits of cited reference searching is that it frees you from the difficult task of predicting which search terms will find the best results. For example, an article came up in my Google Scholar results list about ‘neighborhoods and HIV’. While this certainly sounds related to community organizing, it may not have come up in a keyword search if it those exact words (‘community’ and ‘organizing’) were not used in its abstract.

A final word to the wise: citation numbers are only numbers without context. An article could have been cited 97 times because it provides wonderful contributions to the field, or because 97 other authors wholly disagreed with its content. Context is key with citation numbers!

Happy Searching!

Test It Out!

For today’s post, we’ll focus on a frequent question we receive in the library: How do I locate sample studies which use the test/measure/scale I plan to use?

Great question! Many students are interested in discovering samples of how a certain measure has been employed previously to give themselves a sense of how they might use it in their own research.

…but where do you even begin?

Maze (미로)

Image by Seongbin Im. CC license here.

Here are a few suggestions to get you on the right track:


The PsycINFO database has an amazing search option called….(drumroll)…’Look-up Tests & Measures’. (Disclaimer: Even though ‘psyc’ is in the title, tons of subject matter is included!) You can locate this handy feature under the ‘Search Options’ header on the advanced search page:



So, what can you do with it?  When you follow this link a pop-up window will open in the center of your screen.  Here, you can either search for a specific test/measure, or you can search for tests which have a particular word/words in the title.  We’ll take a look at how to search for a specific test, but you can employ the exact same technique to discover tests with certain words in the title.

Known Test

Let’s say I’m getting ready to conduct some research, but would like to see sample studies which have used an ‘anger management scale’.  Once I’ve followed the ‘look up’ link, I will search for tests which contain ‘anger management’ in their title like so:



From here, I can scroll through the test titles, check the box next to any I would like to include in my search, and press ‘Add to search’ when I am finished.

Once you do so, the ‘look up test and measure’ search box will automatically be populated with the test name(s).  Now, without doing anything else, you can just press the ‘search’ button to look at all the matching documents. (Of course, if you wanted, you could add in search terms to make the sample studies even more specific):

search page


After pressing search, my results list will show those documents which employed the ‘anger management scale’ .  Of course, it’s possible (and likely) that these documents will have used multiple tests and measures.

If you ever want to see every test used in a particular study in PsycINFO, simply click on the ‘citation/abstract’ link below the title.  Then, scroll down to view the indexing details for that document:




Okay, okay, but what if you not only want to find a sample study, but you want to find the actual test/measure/scale used?  This is certainly a bit trickier.  It’s important to know that while you may readily find some tests/measures, other times the only way to obtain the official test/scoring mechanism is to purchase it.  But we’ll offer some suggestions to get you started!

Finding the actual test/measure


As luck should have it, in addition to the PsycINFO database, we also have one called PsycTESTS.  Here, you can search for a particular test in hopes of seeing not only how it was developed, but of seeing its full-text as well.

Here are some sample results from a search I did for “anger management”:



As you can see, some results are test ‘summaries’ while others include the test itself.  It’s always worth exploring these results to see if you find any good matches.

ProQuest Dissertations & Theses

Know what studies pretty universally include copies of their test instruments?  Dissertations!  Most dissertations/theses included appendices which have full-text copies of survey or interview questions, measuring scales, etc.  Searching in the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database is a wonderful way to locate such items.

You could search for keywords specifically related to your topic; the name of a test or measure; or you could combine those strategies as I’ve done in the example below.  In this case, I searched for the phrase “anger management” and for a keyword related to a scale.



Of course, like any research, it may take some sample searches and revisions to land on the combination that yields the best results.

There’s a lot more to learn about tests and measures!  Be sure to check out the other Fielding resources on this topic.  The Clinical Psych LibGuide contains a page (including a powerpoint) on tests.  You can check it out here.   We’ve also created some mini-tutorials on using PsycINFO which are available on the Quick Tip Videos page of this blog.

Of course, you can always get in touch with the library for more assistance.  Now go test out these techniques!

Research about…research?

At the graduate school level, your life is pretty much all about research.  Which begs the question….how do you do research about research?

Most people don’t enter school simply knowing how to do ethnographic studies, conduct action research, or compute chi-squared analyses.

Math Class

Image by Lauren. CC license here.


Lucky for us, the library has access to SAGE Research Methods Online.  This one-of-a-kind, completely full-text database is dedicated solely to information about conducting research.  Content is available in a number of formats: full e-books, journal articles, encyclopedia entries, even videos.

Whether you are doing a literature review, planning a qualitative study, analyzing data, or writing it all up as a dissertation, you’ll find something of interest.

SAGE Research Methods offers a number of great ways to discover content.  Of particular note is the ‘Methods Map’.  Best thought of as a visual, hierarchical search tool, the Methods Map allows you to perceive relationships between various research methods.

When you first use the Methods Map, you will see the broadest possible term (“research methods”) in the center:


From here, you can use the options on the right side of the screen to delve deeper into the content.  For example, you could then select ‘qualitative research’ from the list.  Each time you make a selection, the map will shift to reflect which method you are currently viewing and to revel new sub-terms:



When you land on a topic you would like to learn more about, simply click on the ‘Show content’ button below the method’s name to view the relevant books, journals, and more:



The methods map will be retained at the top of the screen (in case you want to use it more!), while the related content will be displayed below:



In addition to using the map, you can browse methods and conduct keyword searches for content.  To learn all about how to get started with this great resource, you may want to view Fielding Library’s tutorial video (best viewed full screen):


If you want more in-depth help, check out SAGE’s LibGuide in the ‘database searching’ section of the More Resource page.

Happy Searching!


Image by meghan d. CC license here.