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Use dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks to learn quickly about the state of research on your topic. A good encyclopedia article should describe major themes, current research fronts, and controversial areas; it should also provide a brief bibliography of classic, important, or definitive works on your topic. Handbooks generally offer chapters on specific aspects of a topic: together, the handbook's chapters should provide a broad overview of the state of research; individually, chapters may be narrowly focused.
Through its four editions starting in 1984, Corsini has been the basic reference work for psychology. Brief articles with short bibliographies are most easily found by browsing the "Articles by Topics" hierarchy: see especially "Human Development" and "Personality and Interpersonal Processes". Representative articles include: "Adult Intellectual Development", "Adulthood and Aging", "Friendships".
Citation-rich chapters on theoretical perspectives, structural influences, cognition and the brain, the self, family relations, friendships, romantic relationships and sexuality, education and work, leisure and media use, cultural beliefs, and risk and resilience. Additional titles in Oxford Handbooks: Psychology will have useful chapters, too.
From the APA "Decade of Behavior" series, providing mid-2000s "state of the art" surveys with looks forward on society's most significant challenges. Arnett's bookend chapters are especially important.
Appearing every decade or 15 years since 1954 (with a precursor in 1935), the Handbook provides a state-of-the-art overview of the field. The 5th edition's "Articles by Topic" browsing presents three topical areas: Methodology, The Social Being, and The Social World. See especially The Social World's 43-page article, "Close relationships".
While this reference work focuses on a younger age group, it does include lengthy articles on young adulthood. A closer look at research on one subpopulation. Browse the "Articles by Topic", to look for articles on development, personal issues, and so on. See especially the 35-page "Transition to adulthood".
One of the online APA Handbooks in Psychology, a recent collection intended as a one-stop shop for both overviews and in-depth analyses of a variety of sub-fields within psychology. Chapters in this volume have rich bibliographies. See especially, "Sexuality in emerging adulthood". Other APA Handbooks will be useful, too, e.g., APA Handbook of Career Intervention.
Literature reviews are a handy way to get quickly into the scholarly literature. A typical literature-review article will provide a narrative that identifies and describes dozens of journal articles and books.
A fulltext e-journal collection including Annual Review of Psychology. Articles are lengthy literature reviews with BIG bibliographies. Useful for both the text summary and the citations for further reading. HINT! Use the "Advanced Search" link in the upper right corner of the startup window. This permits searching in title, abstract, and keywords only and in specific journals, such as Anthropology, Clinical Psychology, Psychology, and Sociology. Example lit review: "Transitions to adulthood in developing countries" / Fatima Juarez and Cecilia Gayet. Ann Rev Sociol vol. 40 (2014): 521-538; similar lit reviews on Europe (2011) and the U.S. (1986)
The APA's comprehensive psychological research database offers short cuts for finding literature reviews on your topic. Fill out the search template with the terms for your topic. Then scroll down to the "Methodology" search option filter - select "Literature Review", "Meta Analysis", and "Systematic Review". HINT! Be sure to sort your search results by "Publication date (most recent first)"!
Doctoral students are expected to situate their dissertation topic within the larger research community, and so dissertations usually incorporate a chapter-length literature review. HINT! Search PQDT using "Anywhere except full text - ALL". PQDT is a fulltext database, and dissertations are book-length works. "ALL" will search titles and abstracts only.
Using Citations to Find Resources
You may already have citations of relevance to the text on which you are working. These resources will help you find an online or print version of the cited work.