How to Do Library Research

This set of pages has information on how to do library research. In all cases, once you have located sources, be sure to evaluate them, using the evaluation guides.

Print (paper) Abstract Searching

An abstract is both an indexing service and also a short non-evaluative summary of a book, journal article, or other information source. Some of the prominent abstracting services have a thesaurus that serves as a guide to the proper subject headings in that indexing source. Always use this source when it is available because it will save you time and will insure that you identify the relevant items on your subject. For example, in Psychological Abstracts information on day care for children can be found under "Child Day Care" but not under "Day Care." Directly below is an example entry from the relationship section of the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms (7th ed.):

  • Child Day Care73
    PN 1016 SC 08670

SN Day care that provides for a child's physical needs and often his/her developmental or educational needs. Kinds of day care include day care centers and school-based programs.


Day Care (Child)
Child Care 91
Child Care Workers 78
Child Self Care 88
Child Welfare 88
Day Care Centers 73
Quality of Care 88

The bold heading at the top is a subject heading (Child Day Care). The superscript number following it and the terms below the definition is the date of inclusion into the Thesaurus; thus, "Child Day Care" first became a PsycINFO term in 1973. PN means "posting note"; it indicates the number of times it is used in the PsycINFO records. Thus, "Child Day Care" appeared 1016 times when the 7th edition of the Thesaurus was published. SC is the subject code. It can be used in the Online and electronic versions of the PsycINFO records. SN means "scope note." It provides a definition of the subject heading and its usage. UF means "use for" (just like in the LCSH). These are the nonpostable index terms. For example, "Working Memory" has "Use Short Term Memory." B means "broader term" (BT in the LCSH). R means "related term" (RT in the LCSH). N means "narrower term" (NT in the LCSH) (not shown here). When using the print Psychological Abstracts, once the proper subject heading is found, go to the back section of the abstracts and look up your subject in the "BRIEF SUBJECT INDEX" (annual cumulations provide a very brief summary of items). In abstracts that don't have a thesaurus, try different terms in the subject index: Child Day Care 32752, 32871, 32876, 34600 The numbers following the subject are ABSTRACT numbers. They are not page numbers. Go into the main section of the abstract and look for the entries that have your subject's numbers: 32752. Woodard, John L. & Fine, Mark A. (Wayne State U, Detroit, MI) Long-term effects of self-supervised and adult-supervised child care arrangements on personality traits, emotional adjustment, and cognitive development. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 1991(Jan-Mar), Vol 12(1), 73-85. In a long-term study of the effects of adult vs self supervised childcare, 248 university students completed the following measures: the Quick Test, the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory, The California Psychological Inventory, and the SCL-90 (Revised). Ss who reported having been in adult care did not differ from students who regularly cared for themselves during out-of-school hours on any of the dependent measure (cognitive development, emotional adjustment, personality development). Age at which the self-care situation was initiated, and gender, individually and collectively, failed to predict outcome on any dependent measure. Results suggest that children are resilient to short-term separation from their parents and may be able to structure their time constructively during out-of school hours. Authors: John L. Woodard and Mark A. Fine
Institution affiliation: Wayne State University
Title of article: "Long-term effects of self-supervised and adult-supervised child care arrangements on personality traits, emotional adjustment, and cognitive development"
Journal/magazine: Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology,
Volume: 12
Number: 1
Pages: 73-85
Date: January-March 1991

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