Selecting a Topic & Background Research

The Library has a large number of subject specific online encyclopedias, companions and handbooks with exhaustive and well-researched entries written by subject experts. These essays are generally helpful startiing points and can help you in defining and focusing your topic. Essays generally include bibliographies that will lead you to further sources on your topic.

Find a sampling of useful sociology and methods resources below.  More encyclopedias, companions and handbooks can be found on the E-Reference Resources list and in the library's online catalog.

 Example E-Reference Resources


Finding Scholarly Journal Articles

The most efficient approach to locating scholarly journal articles on any topic is to start out with one of the library’s databases such as ERIC or Social Services Abstracts. These databases index hundreds of scholarly journals and will link you to articles on your topic of choice.

The library has subscriptions to numerous scholarly journals in education and psychology. The links on the library’s web site are your access point to the full text online. You may be prompted to authenticate as a Villanova student. Use your Villanova user id and email password. You can find some of the same content through Google, but you may not be able to link to the full text.

For interdisciplinary topics, you may need to search subject-specific databases in other subject areas, such as sociology or criminal justice.  Check the Subject Guides for other great library resources that may be useful for your research.

 Article Databases for the Human Services

  PsycINFO (ProQuest)  Tutorial
Provides abstracts and indexing to journals, books, book chapters, technical reports and dissertations in all areas of psychology. This database is produced by the American Psychological Association (APA). International in scope; coverage is from 1887 to the present.

  ERIC (ProQuest)
Indexes and abstracts education journals, curriculum and teaching guides, conference papers, dissertations and theses, books, and Department of Education (ED) research reports. References for ED research reports often have links to the full text. Coverage goes back to 1966. The Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

  Social Services Abstracts (ProQuest)
Indexes the literature of social work, human services, and related fields. Includes citations to journal articles and dissertations. Covers 1979 to the present.

  Education Full Text (EBSCO)
More than 400 English-language periodicals and yearbooks published in the U.S. and elsewhere. Subjects include administration, teaching methods and curriculum, literacy, government funding, and more. ERIC, the government education file, can be searched simultaneously by clicking Open Database Selection Area and selecting ERIC.

  Education Administration Abstracts (EBSCO)
Indexes and abstracts journals in the fields of educational administration. Topics include educational leadership, educational management, and educational research. Coverage goes back to 1966.

Article Database Search Tips

  • Use synonyms, brainstorm and mine found resources
  • Notice controlled vocabulary, index, descriptor and subject terms.  Take good notes!
  • Use truncation to search for all terms with the same root: child* for child, children and childhood
  • Combine terms with boolean operators, AND contains both terms, OR contains at least one term
  • Search phrases; quotes work for most databases
  • Use dropdown menu or radio buttons to limit search to fields such as title, subject, abstract, descriptors
  • Save time and frustration with the Help menu: every database has one!

Getting to Full Text

findit.gif  Once you have identified a useful article, check to see whether it is available in full text from that database.  You will see a link or an icon for an HTML or PDF version of the article (sometimes the full article is displayed below the abstract).  If the article is not available in full text through that database, it may still be available through another vendor.  Click the find it button to see if it is available.  This will take you to the 360Link screen:


Citing Your Sources in APA Style

Even if you have experience with APA or other citation styles, preparing your citations can be difficult.  The library is here to help!

Whether writing your reference list by hand or proofreading a bibliography, you will definitely need to have the APA rules on hand.  Check out the resources below:

  • If you find the Publication Manual confusing or scary (or both), try the APA Online Tutorial.  This video guide is clear and easy to watch.  It gives a thorough overview of how to format your paper and cite your sources.
  • For those trickier scenarios (how do I cite my class notes?  how do I cite a blog post?), try searching the APA Style Blog.  This is another official APA site, so it is an authoritative source.

Academic Integrity

Use proper APA style to ensure that you are meeting the academic integrity standards of your field.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Take this quick quiz to see whehter you know how to properly parahrase!

Questions about citation styles or academic integrity?  Librarians and the Villanova Writing Center can help!

Employment Resources

  Occupational Outlook Handbook
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