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PSYC 001 - Introduction to Experimental Psychology: Facts & context for your topic

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Start with your textbook

Faculty members carefully their textbooks, which are often structured to be guides to a discipline. See what your textbook can offer you as a starting point for your research beyond the course readings.

Examine your textbook carefully.

  • Browse the table of contents for chapters that might cover your topic.
  • Look up your topic in the index at the back of the book.
  • The textbook will provide within-text bibliographic citations to research experiments, and those citations are fleshed out in the bibliography at the back of the book.

Tracking down citations

Once you have citations to track down, search for the titles on the Penn Libraries homepage, and select the appropriate item from the resulting screen. Article citations should appear in the Articles+ column of results; book citations should appear in the Catalog column.

Reference works: encyclopedias & handbooks

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.

Tips on searching reference works

Where to start?

  1. Dictionaries - if you've got a specific term.
  2. Corsini, AccessMedicine, DSM-5. Choose the one most suitable for your topic, but expect to look at another one, just in case. Expect brief articles with one or two paragraphs, with citations to the classic experiment or a recent literature review.

  3. Handbooks. Read for a broader context. Expect long articles, with a historical perspective and lots of citations to important research.

How to search?

Start by searching with the terms you know:

  • "H.M."
  • Prosopagnosia
  • Schachter AND Singer
  • Lange AND emotion*
    • (* truncates: "emotions", "emotional")
  • "classical conditioning" AND phobia*
    • Then try: conditioning AND phobia*

Try to search "within the work".

Take a moment to look at the search interface and e-book platform.
Look for a link, "Search in this book" or "Search within work".


Ignore search results sorted by "Relevance" ranking or "Sort by 'Best Match'".

You're searching for a phrase or a couple words. How effective can relevance ranking be for that kind of search? Do your search, look at all likely results. Use your browser's "Find" tool.

Chasing citations

  • Look for PennText links.
  • Look for DOI's or URLs in citations.Consider installing the UPenn Proxy bookmark in your web browser, if you have access problems off-campus or outside AirPennNet.
  • Use the PennText Article Finder.
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