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Public Policy189/Social Welfare 181: Find Articles

Course Assignment

From Professor Skeem: At the heart of your presentation are the references that you identify through your literature search.   You are required to turn in an annotated bibliography in APA format that summarizes the key articles you rely upon to develop your presentation. You must have at least ten references in your bibliography. Of these, at least eight must be to original empirical articles (including meta-analyses) from the professional literature – not books, review chapters, popular press articles, the internet, etc.

Find Articles With Library Databases

Library Databases are a powerful complement to familiar search tools like Google Scholar. They have many special features -- for example, in some you can search by the age of the subjects (teenagers, elderly, infants, etc.) or the methods of the research (qualitative, empirical, etc.) Many provide abstracts which allow you to get a quick summary of the methods and findings, and they have "fields" which allow you to search for a name as author (not subject), articles in just one journal, and many more.

We have over one thousand research databases which help you find articles (and more) on a wide variety of topics. They are organized according to academic discipline, by name, or by type of database (dissertations, e-books, etc.)

Cited By Searching

If an article is relevant to your topic, it can be very helpful to see not just what they cited (references, bibliography) but future scholars who cited it. There are several different ways to do this, and the results will overlap -- no single method is comprehensive.


Sample Search Language

 ("community policing" or "community-oriented policing") and (rct or "randomized controlled trial")
Looking at the results we see that "Problem Oriented Policing" is a closely allied term. Can add that to our query.


"The essential meaning of the term is that objective knowledge from scientific research including rigorous evaluation studies should occupy a central place in policy decision making. Seeking rigorous and reliable knowledge and promoting its utilization within the policy process are core features of an evidence-based policy approach." (From the International Encyclopedia of the Behavioral Social Sciences: Policy Analysis: Evidence-Based Policy-Making)

SAGE Research Methods states that an empirical study meets some or all of these criteria:

  • Confirmability: The study's procedures are described explicitly.
  • Dependability: Data was collected across multiple settings, time periods, and informants.
  • Authenticity: The study seem plausible.
  • Transferability: The study acknowledges scope and boundaries.
  • Applicability: Evaluators and policy researchers would be able to use this study to take concrete action.
  • Attention to ethics: Ethical concerns addressed, including who benefits and whether anyone could be harmed by this study.

Structure of Empirical Articles

From the assignment: "The prototypic key source will describe the results of a research study (with introduction, method, results, and discussion sections) and will be published in a high profile general journal (e.g., Criminology, Psychological Bulletin) or specialty journal (e.g., Law & Human Behavior, Criminal Justice & Behavior, Psychology, Public Policy & Law)."

Searching Recommended E-Journals

Sometimes it's more efficient to go directly to some recommended sources -- these are suggested by Professor Skeem:

Criminology and Public Policy

Law & Human Behavior 

Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 


Criminal Justice and Behavior 

Psychological Bulletin