For My Students | Admin/Research | PSY | FaCET | WKU 

Finding Quality and Useful Journal Articles

How do I find journal articles for my project?

  1. Ask the librarian to show you how to use Psychological Abstracts-- it is a massive listing of everything published in psychological journals. Look up your topic and then target articles from journals whose titles are most similar to your course's title. Students at the extended campuses can find more information about resources for them at
  2. Use your textbook-- it probably describes research studies relevant to your project-- look them up in the text bibliography then take them to your librarian for help in locating them.
  3. Look in your textbook bibliography and notice which journals are most frequently cited. These are the major journals in the area. Go to the library, locate those journals in the stacks. Take several off the shelf and thumb through them until you find something similar.
  4. Once you've found one good one, look at its Reference section for articles on a similar topic.
  5. Look at the sample papers provided for many of my courses. See what articles those students used. I'm interested that you find a scholarly article that can serve as a rigorous model of a psychology publication, and especially one pertinent for the course topic as even within psychology there are different styles. Popular literature is often misleading.
  6. Psychology majors ought to learn which journals are APA or APS journals. These are generally among the best in the particular field and will serve as good models or resources for you. Ownership is revealed inside the front cover.

Why do I have to be so careful about stuff I find on the Internet?

  1. You are in college to learn to be a scholar, not a skimmer. The Web encourages superficial inspection of the heritage of a document. It can be challenging to identify the real source of a paper on the web and to know the actual identity of an author. Scholarly journals have a track record, a reputation that can be trusted.

  2. Most professional journals (but not all, therefore seek APA or APS ones) go through a rigorous review process by experts in the field. You are assured of high quality information in a print journal or it wouldn't be worth the added cost of printing it. If you are looking at some on-line material--try to ascertain the credentials of the persons who reviewed the information. Was it a "blind" review? That is, were the reviewers kept in the dark about the identity of the author of the paper?

  3. Some on-line journals are peer-reviewed. Very slowly more scholarly psychology information is being made available on-line. If you find something you are desperate to use, send me the URL and a well-reasoned argument about its scholarly and trustworthy nature. Tell me what its credentials are. Why should I (and, more importantly, you) trust it?

  4. It isn't enough to find a peer-reviewed journal from a publisher with a good reputation-- the article must reflect the field and philosophy of behavior therapy. You can't necessarily tell from a journal's title. If in doubt, show me. I look at their publication style (do they use APA style?) and their theoretical approach (is it behavioral?). Other clues: does it have "Behavior" in it's title? or perhaps "Addictions" or "Development." Sometimes "Applied Psychology" is a good hint. Avoid anything using terms like "consciousness," "humanistic," or "personality." Who's the publisher-- a national or international psychology organization? (keep it) or some other field (e.g., counseling or social work, -toss it). However, Psychology Today, does NOT qualify. It is a magazine for the general public.

  5. As a student taking a Kentucky class you have access to the Kentucky Virtual Library ( It is slowly growing to incorporate more psychology resources. Be careful, sometimes all you can get is an abstract. You'll have to go through interlibrary loan to get the entire article. Go to Social Sciences. You'll need to deselect newspapers, Philosophy/Religion, Sociology. Then you'll have to discard the articles that are not behavioral. In other materials for your project I give you a suggested list of acceptable journals. If you get your articles from these, you'll be safe. If they come from another source (do I need to say it again!) show me. I don't want you to have a poor example from which to work.

Tests & Measurement Page | Motivation Page | Interviewing Page | Behavior Modification Page | Graduate Practicum Page

For My Students | Admin/Research | PSY | FaCET | WKU 

Contact the author with comments or questions about this site by following the directions at this page (which will open in a new window.)

All contents © since 1996 by Sally Kuhlenschmidt. Copy only with permission.
Website created: June 1996. Page Created: October, 1998. Last Modified: August 13, 2004.