In addition to searching in the databases with keywords, you can locate sources on a given topic by ‘mining’ the list of references at the end of each relevant, current source you have already found and plan to use for your research project. Every scholarly research article has such a list, and it is often quite extensive, containing all the sources used to inform the preceding article. Of course, the sources in the list will predate the article that used them, but they will also likely be part of the ongoing scholarly discussion on your topic. Therefore, you can scan this list of references at the end of each article you have already found, looking for the telltale citation format of a journal article to use in your research as well. Literature reviews (also called review articles or meta-analyses), can be particularly useful, because they pull together and examine all the pertinent research on a given topic during a given, recent span of time, enabling you to find all or most of the research in one place. Then, all you would need to do is search for additional sources published since the review was written to ensure you have found all the most current, scholarly research on your topic. Use additional boxes and fields in the advanced search feature of you subject database inputting the authors’ names, the journal title, etc. to locate the source. Sometimes, your sources will help you by providing actual hyperlinks in the list of references.
Funding or Grants for Research
Some articles will feature a section near the end labeled Funding or Disclosures. You should look for this section especially if the research evaluates a trademarked product, as such studies are often funded by the makers of the product. Such disclosures can also reveal relationships (like ties to agencies with specific agendas) that could indicate bias or conflict of interest. Disclosures of this kind do not necessarily mean that a source is not reliable, but they should be considered as part of your overall evaluation of the source, especially as you are considering that source in the context of the research as a whole.
This funding disclosure is from an article about the health effects of energy drinks. It reveals that the researchers received funding from energy drink manufacturers. Though such research relationships are not unusual, you should take them into consideration when evaluating the utility of the source.
Appendices and Other Back Matter
Some articles reporting on empirical research will include, as one or more appendices, the instrument(s) used in the studies that were conducted. This means that the surveys, interview questions, or observation protocols used by the author(s) for their primary research may appear at the end of the article after the references are listed. Instead of including a full survey, some articles will instead provide just the scale(s) used in their studies. Any of these materials may be used by subsequent researchers (including you) in the development of further studies, provided that the article that contains the original instrument(s) and/or scale(s) is properly cited in the methods section.