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Psychology - Accessing Library Resources: Home

Introductory information on accessing and using library resources for psychology research.

This guide will introduce you to the two Library Research tools that you will need throughout your studies; Library Search and A-Z Databases

Want to know more about psychology specific databases? Check out the get to know them guide

Once you are familiar with the research tools you should complete an advanced searching tutorial to explore the skills and techniques you can use for effective library research. Browse the Subject Guides for more details.

Accessing Library resources - where to start

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Think of the Library Search and A-Z Databases Lists as complementary services, you will need to use both during your research. 

Library Search is a good starting point for introductory material, and to search for known items to see if the library provides access. For example you can check if we have electronic access to a book or journal. 

Research databases index the global literature and provide references to journal articles, books, conference proceedings, reports etc that match your search criteria. They allow you to tailor your search more precisely using all the sophisticated functionality available within them and explore a wider range of literature. 

How to find resources

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Library Search

Search for textbooks, ebooks, journals, articles + more.  

Library Search is your discovery service for searching the library collections, and is a great place to start your research.

Use it to find:

  • specific book and journal titles,
  • a range of full text sources on a topic such as journal articles, book chapters etc.

It does not cover all specialist databases, and due to the way it standardises and aggregates content from lots of different sources you will find it harder to locate psychology specific content. Therefore, searching subject specific databases to find articles is recommended as you move through your research.

The Forum Library houses the psychology print collection on Level -1. The main classmark for Psychology is 150 - 159. The basics on borrowing, renewing and requesting print material are available here.  However, as a digital first library most of your resources are available online. These include electronic journals, databases, electronic books, reference materials and much more. 

Databases provide access to published scholarly research. They contain detailed records of thousands of journal articles, book references and conference proceedings. These records usually include the article title, authors, abstract (a brief summary), keywords (to enable your search to find it) and more.

A wide range of databases are available to you at the University. Explore some of the core resources for your subject area from the A-Z Databases list. You will see a Core Resources selection which flags the most important databases first.  Each database entry is accompanied by a brief description so you can find out what is included in each database and why it might be useful to your research. 

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  • LibGuides are online support guides, available 24/7 from your desktop or device, wherever in the world you are located.

  • The Subject Guides highlight key resources and guidance to assist with your subject research.

  • Browse or search to find help and guidance.

Using your reading list to find resources

For many modules you are likely to have an embedded reading list that links you directly to the required reading. 

However, you may also be provide a reading list as word or PDF document, be directed to look at reading in a teaching session or come across references through your reading you wish to follow up on. Understanding how to decipher the reference to quickly find the resource is key.

Although reference styles differ across subjects and sources, and can vary from lecturer to lecturer, the basic elements of a reference (author, title, publication date etc.) should be the same whatever the referencing style, even though the formatting and word order may differ.

The following tabs provide examples of key reference types and how to find these resources using Library Search. 

Identifying a book references

· There is publication information (place of publication and publisher).

· There are no volume or issue numbers.

· If there is more than one edition, there may be an edition statement.

· The book title is often in italics.

Identifying a book chapters

· There is publication information (place of publication and publisher).

· There are two author statements: the chapter author and the book editor.

· There are two titles: the chapter title and the book title.

· The word In indicates that the referenced material appears within a book.

Identifying a journal articles

· There are volume, issue* and page or article numbers.

· There is no publication information (i.e. place of publication; publisher).

· There are two titles: the article title and the journal title (often in italics).

* Note: no all referencing styles include the issue number!

Getting started with databases

  • Access via A to Z database list .  

  • Sort list by subject to see a tailored range of resources (core resources displayed first e.g. APA PsycInfo).

  • The databases you search will be influenced by your topic and its research focus.

  • Click on a database name and login with your University email and password for access. 

Database interfaces will all vary, and they may use different terminology. However, they all have similar features. Once you are familiar with these, you'll be able to find your way around different databases. You can see the main features in the examples below.

This is what a standard database interface looks like:

Once you click the Search button, the results page appears:

Use the limiter / filter options to help focus your results to the most relevant materials. Typical database filters include: 

  • Publication date: Limit results to those published in a relevant date range.
  • Source type: Filter results by type; e.g. academic journal, conference paper, report, thesis etc.
  • Publication title: View results from specific publication.
  • Subject: Filter results by associated subject 'tags'.

It is important to note:

  • Some databases provide full text access to the articles themselves.
  • Some databases are primarily indexes or bibliographic databases, and although they provide information about the content of a journal article, they may not provide full-text access to the actual article itself.
  • Some databases are a mixture of full-text and indexed/bibliographic access.

So, when searching databases, be prepared for an extra step. 

After finding a relevant article or book you need to check whether you have access to that item, either in print or in full-text online.  Many of the databases will have a Check for this at Exeter button; clicking on this link will check whether we have access to the item.

For more information see the Finding full text articles libguide. 

Top Tip: APA PsycArticles (OVID) and the Psychology & Behavioral Sciences Collection (EBSCO) are full text databases, these are a good starting point as you will be able to read any articles you find! 

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