Psychology 201W, Spring 2002


Dr. John A. Johnson

This assignment has two instructional goals: (a) to teach students how to use our library's computer searching tools to locate articles in psychology, and (b) to provide students with experience in reading and summarizing psychological research.

The first rule in conducting computer searches of library resources is that the rules may change at any time. Dr. Johnson will demonstrate with examples the search facilities in this assignment (CAT, PsycINFO, IDEAL). Following the procedures from his examples should allow you to locate the required pieces of information in this assignment. But keep in mind that libraries are constantly revising their procedures, so what works today may not work next year or even tomorrow. Also, procedures may differ slightly depending on how you access the library's computer databases (e.g., from a dial-in connection at home versus a TELNET connection versus a dedicated terminal in the library).

The second rule in conducting computer searches of library resources is that there are often several ways of locating the same information. This assignment directs you to several search resources in order to familiarize you with their existence. But if you ever find yourself getting stuck using one resource and are able to locate the information a different way, that is fine. This assignment does not cover all of the useful library resources available to us. For example, you may wish to explore the library resources of other Big 10 schools through VEL, the Virtual Electronic Library. Don't limit yourself to the minimum requirements of this assignment in your searches for information.

Guide to Getting Started

Penn State's web page for the University Libraries can be found at:
(LIAS stands for Library Information Access System)
and looks like this:

To use the Penn State Libraries Catalog (CAT), follow the quick link The CAT. To access the PsycINFO, IDEAL, and other databases, follow the quick link to Fast Track - Menu of all databases. (Remember the second rule of searching, that there are several ways of locating the same information? There are actually three links on the Libraries front page that will take you to the CAT and databases. See if you can find the three links.)

The assignment has eight steps:

STEP 1: When you fill out an InterLibrary Loan request form for a journal article, you must provide complete information on this form for the librarians to complete your request, including the call number of the journal containing the article. Your assignment: Using the CAT in LIAS, locate the call numbers for the following three journals: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Personality, and Journal of Research in Personality. Do this by typing in the name of each journal in the search field and following the links containing the journal name until you come to a page with the journal's call number. Write these call numbers on the attached assignment sheet, next to the title of each journal.

STEP 2: PsycINFO is a primary on-line resource for finding articles in psychological journals. To get to PsycINFO, first follow the Fast Track - Menu of all databases link, which will diplay a page that looks like this:

To link to PsycINFO, scroll down the list of available databases until you find the entry called Psychology Databases. Click on the Psychology Databases link to highlight it and then click the button that says Go There. If you are using one of the University's computers or a dial-in connection to the University, the link will take you directly to the Psychology Database page. If you are using a private Internet Service Provider, the link will take you to a page asking you to "authenticate" to access the library's special databases. You will have to type in your Penn State Access User ID and password (the same ones you use to access your Penn State email) to continue to the Psychology Database page.

You have two choices on the Psychology Database page. Follow the link that says "Click here to go to Web PsycINFO." A page will appear that gives some hints and shows some examples for using the search engine (called WebSPIRS) for searching PsycINFO.

One thing you can do from this page is to limit your search to a specific range of years. To do this, locate the small window in the upper-right corner that says "View databases being search" and click the "Change" button to the right of this window. You can check or uncheck any of the ranges of years listed on the page that comes up, and then click the "Start Search" button to begin to search. We are going to limit our search to articles published between 1984 and the present, so make sure that only those boxes are checked before beginning the search.

Instead of using the search box on the main WebSPIRS page, I suggest clicking on the Advanced tab. This will take you to a search area that is actually easier to use because you don't have to memorize all of the abbreviations for search terms (e.g., au for author). You can also search using two different kinds of terms at once, if you like.

To search for articles by a certain author, type in the author's last name followed by the first name or initial if you know it in the first search box labeled "Terms:". Then in the box to the right of the word "in" select AUTHOR(AU) from the drop-down list. For example, if you type in Johnson John you will get the following display:


You will see yours truly listed as an author on publications 5 and 6. Clicking on my name will list all of my publications since 1984 referenced by PsychINFO. (If you had known that my middle initial was A., you could have typed "Johnson John A" into to search box in the first place. Be aware, though, that sometimes middle initials are left out when names are indexed, so you might miss some of a researcher's publications if you only included the middle initial in your search.)

You can follow a similar procedure to locate articles by subject, title, and a number of other different types of keywords. For example, try using the word "personality" as a search term in the title. When I did this, the results returned 17,433 publications.

When you get a large number of results from your search, you will certainly want to narrow down the search. You could do this by entering different search terms or by combining results from searches you have completed. Every time you do a search, the results are saved in your "search history." You can combine articles in the search history to narrow down your list of articles to your specifications. Let's say you want a list of all articles authored by your instructor with the word "personality" in the title. You have already run searches on John Johnson as an author and personality in the title. Click on the Search History tab and you will see those previous searches listed:


Check the boxes next to the two previous searches and then click the box that says Combine and search using and. The following screen will appear.

Clicking the display icon next to Search #3 will return a page listing 6 article by author John Johnson with the word personality in the title.

Your assignment: Using PsycINFO, locate an article authored by Robert R. McCrae on openness and creativity. Use McCrae Robert as an author term and openness and creativity as title terms. Write the full, APA-style reference for this article on the attached assignment sheet.

STEP 3: Explore the Social Sciences Citation Index. One of the most powerful research tools I discovered as an undergraduate at Penn State was the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI). The SSCI is finally available on line. Rather than lead you by the hand through specific steps of using the SSCI, I want you to explore this resource and discover what it can tell you.Your assignment: Access the SSCI by choosing Social Science Citation Index from the list of databases in LIAS. On the page that appears, follow the link for the WEB OF SCIENCE. Using either the Full Search or Easy Search, locate an article of interest to you. Write the full, APA-style reference for this article on the attached assignment sheet and write a brief (2-3 sentence) summary of the article.

STEP 4: Slowly but sure, libraries are adding what they call "full text" electronic journals to their resources. Not many psychology journals appear in full text electronic form yet, but a few do. Your assignment: select Academic IDEAL from the list of databases in LIAS. This will lead you to the main page of  IDEAL (the International Digital Electronic Access Library). (By linking through LIAS, you will have full permission to read full text articles here, but you have to follow the menu system described here to retain this permission.)


Begin your search by clicking on the blue word Search in the field of green at the top of the screen. In the resulting page, choose the Journal of Vocational Behavior from the drop-down list under Select Journal, select Author Last Name under Field(s) to Search and enter Hogan in the box under Enter Search Term(s) (see picture below).

Clicking on the gray Search button at the bottom of the screen will take you to the result for the search. To get a copy of the full article, click on the link that says Article (PDF 132K). Write the full, APA-style reference for the resulting article by Robert Hogan on the attached assignment sheet, and describe in 2-3 sentences the general topic of this article.

STEP 5: Your Assignment: Using PsycINFO, locate an article published in one of the three journals listed in STEP 1 during the years 1992-1998. This article must report an original, empirical research study (not a review or theoretical study). You might want to order an article that looks interesting to you by entering key words describing a topic that interests you (e.g., depression). Order a copy of this article through our campus's inter-library loan service. Enter the reference to the article, in APA format, on the assignment sheet. You will be summarizing this article in STEP 8. Attach a photocopy of the journal abstract from the first page of the article to your summary.

STEP 6: Your Assignment: Using PsycINFO, find a reference to an article published after the article you are summarizing, that is about the same or a related topic. This reference may be to an article in any journal. Enter the keyword that relates this article to the one you are summarizing, and the reference to this article in APA format, on the assignment sheet.

STEP 7: Your Assignment: Use the CAT in LIAS to find a reference to a book that covers the same topic (or a closely related one) as the article you are summarizing. Enter this information in APA format, the book's call number, and the keyword(s) you used to find the book on the assignment sheet.

STEP 8: Write a summary of the article you chose for Step 5.

The summary should include the following: a statement of the problem, the hypothesis being investigated, the method (including the independent and dependent variables), the major results, the conclusion, and your own conclusion about what you learned from the article. The summary should be written in essay style (complete sentences, organized paragraphs, and so on) and be approximately 1 to 2 typed pages in length. In the case of articles reporting multiple studies, summarize one study and describe the main points of the other studies in one sentence each. Summaries must be typed!


1. The completed assignment sheet

2. Evaluation/comment sheet with your name

3. Your typed summary

4. Photocopies of the abstract, first page, and reference list for the article you summarize.

* * * * *

Your Name __________________________________



Psychology 201W, Spring 2002


Dr. John A. Johnson

Step 1: Journal Information


Call Number

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 


Journal of Personality 


Journal of Research in Personality 



Step 2 : Reference for McCrae article on openness and creativity in APA format:


Step 3: Reference for the article you found through the SSCI in APA format:



Summary of the article you found through the SSCI





Step 4: Reference for Hogan article in Journal of Vocational Psychology in APA format:

Short description of Hogan article:

Step 5: Reference in APA format for the article you are summarizing:


Step 6: Keyword(s) for and reference in APA format for a more recent article on the same topic.


Reference: _________________________________________________________________________________


Step 7: Keyword(s) for, reference in APA format, and call number for a book that covers the same topic.


Reference: _________________________________________________________________________________


Call Number: _____________________________________________________________

Step 8: (Written summary of article in step 5 typed on separate pages)

* * * * *

Your Name __________________________________


Paper #1 Evaluation and comment sheet

Psychology 201W, Spring 2002


Dr. John A. Johnson

For this assignment, you should turn in the following:

1. The completed assignment sheet

2. This evaluation/comment sheet with your name

3. Your typed summary

4. Photocopies of the abstract for the article you summarize.


Library information (47 points)

Step 1: Call numbers of three journals (6) _____

Step 2: McCrae creativity article (5) _____

Step 3: Article located through the SSCI (12) _____

Step 4: Hogan article (6 ) _____

Step 5: Summarized article information (6) _____

Step 6: Second article information (6) _____

Step 7: Book information (6) _____

Step 8: Summary (48 points)

Article summary (48 points)

Article Summary Total (48 possible) ________

Photocopied abstract for summarized article (5 points) ________

Total points from Library steps 1-7 (47 possible) ________