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Academic Success Center (ASC)

All resources relevant to research are contained here for students' access

Wilson Library Research Support

Wilson Library staff are always available to help you with library and research questions. Here are the ways you can contact them.

Chat with Them 24/7: Chat online 24 hours a day with a librarian.  

Call Them: Call Wilson Library at 1-800-866-4858.

Text Them: Have a quick question about the library or research? Send a text to (909) 638-1882.

  • Texts received outside these hours (including weekends & holidays) will be answered the following business day. Message and data rates may apply.

Email Them: Send your question or comment via web form or email them directly; they will respond within 24 hours.  

Finding Articles

1. Once you have chosen a topic, write it down in the form of a question or brief statement:

Can behavior problems in preschool children be analyzed using developmental psychology?

2. Underline the key words and phrases that are most specific to your topic.

Can behavior problems in preschool children be analyzed using developmental psychology?

3. Write down each key word or phrase, and underneath it, list synonyms or related terms.

behavior problems     preschool children          developmental psychology

behavior disorders     Head Start                     transitional kindergarten

4. Use a dictionary or thesaurus to find additional keywords. For example: behavior=conduct     

5. Use these search tips to formulate your search strategy:

Boolean search: Use AND to narrow your search; Use OR to broaden your search

Truncation/Wildcards: Use * to search for plural or variant endings, such as preschool* or behavior*

Phrase Searches: combine two or more words into a phrase by inserting quotation marks "conduct disorder*"

6. Now you can use this search strategy to locate resources in a database.

Example of a search strategy:

 "developmental psycholog*" AND ("behavior problem*" OR "behavior disorder*" OR "conduct problem*" OR "conduct disorder*) AND (preschool* OR "head start" OR "transitional kindergarten*")

The key to finding the right database is knowing what's in it. Here are some questions to ask about any database before you use it.

What Subject Area(s) Does It Cover?

Note what subject areas are covered to ensure that you are using the correct database for your topic.  

In addition, your choice of database will influence the kind of analysis you're likely to find. Searching for "family structure" will get different results if you use PsycInfo (psychological studies) or ERIC (education literature).

What Date Range Does it Cover?

Most databases only cover materials published in the last few decades; there's usually a specific cutoff date. If you're looking for articles or research from before that date, you'll need to use a different database.

In a few databases, you also need to ask "How recent does it get?" Databases of historical materials usually don't go up to the present. And some databases simply exclude the most recent year or two of all journal articles.

What Types of Material Does It Cover?

Most databases index scholarly journal articles, but many cover other types of content, either in addition to or instead of. Some common material types include:

  • magazine or newspaper articles
  • books
  • book chapters
  • dissertations
  • conference papers
  • statistical data

Adapted from Choosing and Using Library Databases guide created by UCLA Library  


Literature Review & Research Writing

Graduate/Dissertation Research

As a student at the University of La Verne, faculty may instruct you to read and analyze empirical articles when writing a research paper, a senior or master's project, or a doctoral dissertation. How can you recognize an empirical article in an academic discipline? An empirical research article is an article which reports research based on actual observations or experiments. The research may use quantitative research methods, which generate numerical data and seek to establish causal relationships between two or more variables.(1) Empirical research articles may use qualitative research methods, which objectively and critically analyze behaviors, beliefs, feelings, or values with few or no numerical data available for analysis.(2)

How can I determine if I have found an empirical article?

When looking at an article or the abstract of an article, here are some guidelines to use to decide if an article is an empirical article.

  • Is the article published in an academic, scholarly, or professional journal? Popular magazines such as Business Week or Newsweek do not publish empirical research articles; academic journals such as Business Communication Quarterly or Journal of Psychology may publish empirical articles. Some professional journals, such as JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association publish empirical research. Other professional journals, such as Coach & Athletic Director publish articles of professional interest, but they do not publish research articles.
  • Does the abstract of the article mention a study, an observation, an analysis or a number of participants or subjects? Was data collected, a survey or questionnaire administered, an assessment or measurement used, an interview conducted? All of these terms indicate possible methodologies used in empirical research.
  • Empirical articles normally contain these sections:
    1. Introduction-The introduction provides a very brief summary of the research.
    2. Methodology-The method section describes how the research was conducted, including who the participants were, the design of the study, what the participants did, and what measures were used.
    3. Results-The results section describes the outcomes of the measures of the study.
    4. Discussion-The discussion section contains the interpretations and implications of the study.
    5. Conclusion-
    6. References-A reference section contains information about the articles and books cited in the report and should be substantial.
    The sections may be combined, and may have different headings or no headings at all; however, the information that would fall within these sections should be present in an empirical article.
  • How long is the article? An empirical article is usually substantial; it is normally seven or more pages long.

When in doubt if an article is an empirical research article, share the article citation and abstract with your professor or a librarian so that we can help you become better at recognizing the differences between empirical research and other types of scholarly articles.

How can I search for empirical research articles using the electronic databases available through Wilson Library?

  • A quick and somewhat superficial way to look for empirical research is to type your search terms into the database's search boxes, then type STUDY OR STUDIES in the final search box to look for studies on your topic area. Be certain to use the ability to limit your search to scholarly/professional journals if that is available on the database. Evaluate the results of your search using the guidelines above to determine if any of the articles are empirical research articles.
  • In EbscoHost databases, such as Education Source, on the Advanced Search page you should see a PUBLICATION TYPE field; highlight the appropriate entry. Empirical research may not be the term used; look for a term that may be a synonym for empirical research. ERIC uses REPORTS-RESEARCH. Also find the field for INTENDED AUDIENCE and highlight RESEARCHER. PsycArticles and Psycinfo include a field for METHODOLOGY where you can highlight EMPIRICAL STUDY. National Criminal Justice Reference Service Abstracts has a field for DOCUMENT TYPE; highlight STUDIES/RESEARCH REPORTS. Then evaluate the articles you find using the guidelines above to determine if an article is empirical.
  • In ProQuest databases, such as ProQuest Psychology Journals, on the Advanced Search page look under MORE SEARCH OPTIONS and click on the pull down menu for DOCUMENT TYPE and highlight an appropriate type, such as REPORT or EVIDENCE BASED. Also look for the SOURCE TYPE field and highlight SCHOLARLY JOURNALS. Evaluate the search results using the guidelines to determine if an article is empirical.
  • Pub Med CentralSage PremierScience DirectWiley Interscience, and Wiley Interscience Humanities and Social Sciences consist of scholarly and professional journals which publish primarily empirical articles. After conducting a subject search in these databases, evaluate the items you find by using the guidelines above for deciding if an article is empirical.
  1. "Quantitative research" A Dictionary of Nursing. Oxford University Press, 2008. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. University of La Verne. 25 August 2009
  2. "Qualitative analysis" A Dictionary of Public Health. Ed. John M. Last, Oxford University Press, 2007. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. University of La Verne. 25 August 2009

APA Resource Guides

Chicago Style Documentation

The below resources provide guidance on proper Chicago Manual of Style documentation:

MLA Documentation

The below resources provide guidance on MLA 8th edition:

AMA Documentation

The following resources provide support for AMA documentation:

ASA Documentation

The following resources provide support for ASA documentation: