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Penn State University Libraries

HD FS 239: Adolescent Development



Erin Burns, Reference Librarian


Picking a Topic

Before you begin searching for books or journal articles on your topic, you need to narrow your HD FS topic by considering these three questions:

1. Who is the focus of my research topic?

    Example: adolescents, pre-teens, teens, etc.

2. What is the status, illness, or phenomenon I am searching for?

    Example: eating disorders, alcoholism, drug usage, memory skills, etc

3. What do I want to focus on within this subject?

    Example: treatment options, socio-economic factors, prevalence, etc.


Why is it important to narrow my topic?

  If you can answer the above questions, then you will have the concepts (or terms) which you will use to search the databases.  Because there are nearly hundreds of thousands of articles on nearly every topic, you need to be specific in your searches so that your are not bombarded with too many results.


Using LionSearch


Lion Search – one single search box that searches across all library resources for books, scholarly journals, e-books, newspapers, and more!

Subject Specific Databases

Finding Books

Once you have your key concepts and keywords, you can use The CAT to find books on your topic.

Using the "Begins With (Browse)" search, you can search the CAT using book titles or authors' names. Authors' names should be entered "last name, first name" and titles should be entered without the initial article (the, a, an...). If the book you want is about the author, make sure you search the name as a Subject, not Author.

Examples:    Morton, J.   -OR-   english grammar for students of french

Don't have a title/author in mind? Instead of a "Keyword" Search, try using the "Topic: Title+Subject" search option with one or more keywords.

APA Citation Guide


Websites also have valuable information, if you know what you are looking for. has all the government statstics.

If you are looking for a particular state's stastics, you can use the State Government's website to find that information.


State Mental Health Boards (you can also do a Google search for the county mental health boards):




State Education Departments (education statistics):

PA: and click on the "Data" Link on the left side of the screen.

OH: and click on the "Data" tab.