Graziano and Raulin (8th ed)Graziano & Raulin
Research Methods (8th edition)

Subject or Keyword Services

There are several sources that reference materials by title, author, and keywords, but do not include the abstract. Even without the abstract, these indexes can be a valuable source for identifying relevant materials. Several examples are given below.

Library Catalogs

The most familiar index to most students is the library card catalog. This is actually a misnomer, because most of the actual card catalogs have been replaced by computerized versions of the same index, which can be accessed through terminals in the library or elsewhere on campus, or even from your own computer at home via a modem. 

The library catalog lists all of the books available to you in the library's collection. You can search by author, title, or subject. In computerized libraries, you may even be able to see if the book is available to be checked out. Increasingly, electronic catalogs from other libraries are available to students and faculty, facilitating the search for hard-to-find material.

Books in Print

Books in Print is a quarterly publication listing all books that are currently in print. Most libraries have hard-cover volumes of Books in Print, with books indexed by author, subject, and title. Many libraries now have this index available through computer searches, which can be conducted from either library or remote terminals. 

Books in Print can be a handy way of finding out if books by a particular author are available, even if they may not be in your own university library. If the book is available, it can usually be obtained through interlibrary loan. 

Books in Print is also handy for finding out if a newer edition of a book has been published. Textbooks are routinely updated every two to eight years (averaging about 3 to 4 years) to provide students with the most up-to-date information. Other books are also updated periodically to reflect advances in the field. You would not want to base your research on a book that is 10 years old when an updated version of the same book is available that more accurately reflects the current state of knowledge.

Index Medicus

Just as Psychological Abstracts provides a citation index for literature of interest to psychologists, Index Medicus provides an index to biomedical literature. It does not, however, provide abstracts of the literature but does include full references (author, title, date, source). When your topic has biomedical aspects, you should also consult Index Medicus. The computerized version of Index Medicus is called Medline.

If you browse through Index Medicus, you will notice something interesting. Even though the abstracts for the articles are not included, the titles of the articles are usually so descriptive that you have little trouble identifying the specific topic of the article. Authors who publish in journals that are often listed in keyword journals, such as Index Medicus, recognize the importance of including a title that helps other researchers to judge the contents of the paper without needing to look it up. The titles are often longer and more detailed than one would find in other journals. In fact, in some cases the titles are almost short abstracts about the paper. Actually, this is less of a problem now, because the online version of Index Medicus (Medline) includes abstracts.

Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature

This is a general index, which covers a wide area of popular literature. It provides citations, but not abstracts. However, there are now several databases of popular literature that not only contain descriptions of the material in the article, but often contain the entire article online or a link to the article. Check with your librarian about what resources may be available at your library that cover popular literature.


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