EASS Assessment Help pages: BEHL 1004: Psychology 1B Essay SP5 2016

About this page

This page is designed to help you locate relevant scholarly publications for Assessments 1 and 2.


For this course you need to show that you have read widely, and cite a minimum number of academic journal articles and academic books.

Check your course outline for exact requirements. For the essay synopsis you are asked to 'locate and read at least five relevant journal articles', while for the the essay: 'it is expected that you will refer to a minimum of 10 sources' - 'academic journal articles and books only'; and demonstrate 'evidence of wide reading from a variety of sources' and 'use of evidence, especially primary evidence'.

Is it an 'academic' source?

Watch 'scholarly' and 'peer reviewed' module [Image source: UniSA Library]

This presentation covers: defining 'academic', 'scholarly' and 'peer reviewed'; indicators that will help you determine if a book or article is scholarly; the peer review process and finding peer reviewed articles

Some search tools find only peer reviewed articles. In others, you can limit to 'scholarly' or 'peer reviewed' articles by ticking a box.

Find key literature using Oxford Bibliographies

Example articles include:


Search process [Image source: UniSA Library]Searching is not a linear process; you’ll repeat certain steps, with refinements. Above are some of the steps you will take from initial reading to writing the final version of your essay. General reading, existing knowledge and unpacking of the task informs your initial ideas and searching. Introductory works will help you identify key ideas, issues, theories and aspects relating to your essay topic. You can then focus your search and locate the 'primary evidence' - original sources referred to in the introductory (secondary or tertiary) works. These will provide you with the evidence needed to support your argument.

Secondary and tertiary sources and 'primary evidence' - examples

Introductory works (secondary/tertiary sources)

Book - 'The social psychology of prosocial behavior' by J. F. Dovidio, J. A. Piliavin, D. A. Schroeder, & L. A. Penner 'The SAGE handbook of personality theory and assessment: Personality theories and models' edited by G. J. Boyle, G. Matthews, & D. H. Saklofske 'Handbook of the psychology of aging' (7th ed.) edited by K. W. Schaie & S. L. Willis

Primary evidence (original research, theorists' own works)

 'On becoming a person' by Carl R. Rogers Journal article - Batson, C., Batson, J. G., Slingsby, J. K., Harrell, K. L., Peekna, H. M., & Todd, R. (1991). Empathic joy and the empathy-altruism hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(3), 413-426. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.61.3.413 Levine, M., & Crowther, S. (2008). The responsive bystander: How social group membership and group size can encourage as well as inhibit bystander intervention. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(6), 1429-1439. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0012634


What are the key concepts in your chosen essay topic? What terms ('keywords') are likely to find relevant resources?

Before you begin searching, identity the content words and phrases (e.g. trait theory of personality) and the instruction words (e.g. identify, describe, critically evaluate, discuss). What do you need to answer in your essay? This will help to guide your searching.

The example key words and phrases provided below were developed by brainstorming around the essay topics, drawing on definitions from reference works, your readings, course notes and initial literature searching.

personality theory | trait theory | human personality | personality | personality trait | five factor model | development | jean piaget | early childhood | early development | prosocial behaviour | altruism | interpersonal attraction | familiarity | proximity | disorder | risk factors

What others can you think of?

Use the terms of others in your searches e.g. PsycINFO record for the article Stability and change of personality across the life course: The impact of age and major life events on mean-level and rank-order stability of the Big Five lists

PsycINFO record example - key concepts and subject headings [Image source: Ovid]

If an article is on topic, try using terms from the record or full text to find further relevant publications.

The Library Catalogue is an important source of books and article for your essay.

Using the Library Catalogue presentation [Image source: UniSA Library]

trait theory personality trait* personality traits life outcomes
piaget child development piaget cognit* development "cognitive development" child* theor*
"social psychology" theor* "social psychology" prosocial behaviour prosocial situation*
interpersonal attraction attraction familiarity  
disorder* factors disorder* etiology  

These are just a few examples. Try different keywords and combinations of keywords.

The Catalogue is an important source of key reference works. For example:

Quick tips for the supersearcher [Image source: UniSA Library]

Increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the search with these techniques: combine search terms correctly using AND and OR; phrase searching; truncation; strategies to refine your search to find more or fewer results; record and organise what you find


PsycINFO in focus

PsycINFO is the key database for finding international peer reviewed literature in behavioural science and mental health and is an excellent guide to books, book chapters and journal articles in this area. If you are studying psychology it is important to become familiar with searching PsycINFO.

There are several possible ways to search PsycINFO.

Example: Advanced Search - map to APA thesaurus heading (subject terms)

Example search - 'personality theory' - mapping to APA thesaurus terms [Image source: Ovid]

Searching for the phrase personality theory maps directly to the APA Subject Heading. Another search is done for trait theory finding the heading personality traits. The terms are combined via the Search History using AND to find only records with those two subject headings.

Using PsycINFO thesaurus terms

You can keep adding terms, making different combinations, and combine subject terms with keywords.

Using APA Subject Headings is a powerful way to find relevant material in an area, especially if you are unfamiliar with a topic. You do not need to know all of the discipline terminology.

See the APA video on How (and Why) to Use the APA Thesaurus When Searching PsycINFO via OvidSP

Example: Multi-Field Search - search multiple concepts simultaneously

Example of a 'Multi-Field' search [Image source: Ovid]

- Asterisk * finds the stem of words e.g. theor* finds theory, theories, theorists, theoretical...
- Two or more words typed next to each other will default to a phrase search
- You can search for a term in different parts of a record - searching in Abstract (Summary) or Subject Headings will narrow your search

Example: Find Citation

Find a specific work, or works by a specific author e.g.

Example Find Citation search in PsycINFO

You may find these useful...

English Language
to filter out foreign language material

if articles are focused on animals and you want humans to be the focus

Peer Reviewed Journal
to just find articles from these journals

Empirical Study
to find 'study based on facts, systematic observation, or experiment, rather than theory or general philosophical principle'

Book and the different Types of Book
to find more in-depth information on a topic, from original classic works to the latest review and analysis - PsycINFO and PsycBOOKS are a rich source of scholarly books and book chapters. If there is no full text link search for the book title in the Library Catalogue


We suggest that you avoid using...

Full Text
you may find the full text using the Find it link - this limit could remove records for material to which you do have access

PsycARTICLES Journals
restricts your search to 102 APA journals, down from the over 2,000 covered by PsycINFO



Not sure how to use this key guide to psychological literature?

Databases: introduction Getting started with PsycINFO
Databases: introduction presentation [Image source: UniSA Library] Getting started with PsycINFO presentation [Image source: UniSA Library]