GERO 301 Research Methods in Gerontology

For further assistance with your assignment, ask at the Belzberg Library Reference Desk or contact Nina Smart, Liaison Librarian for Gerontology (778.782.5043 (Tuesdays and Thursdays) / nsmart@sfu.caMonday to Thursday at Belzberg Library, or Ask a Librarian


Instructor: Dr. Susan Crawford


Course description:

"This course examines research methodology applied to the field of gerontology. Key areas covered include: operationalizing gerontological concepts; sampling older populations; longitudinal designs; outcome and process evaluation of seniors' programs; and elementary data analyses." [Note: for more information see GERO 301's Course Outline and page in Canvas. If there are discrepancies between information listed on this page and that in Canvas or instructor handouts, please refer to the latter.]

Finding research via databases and search engines

Definition:   Databases are primarily collections (often subject-specific) of journals that you can search for articles in a number of ways (details at UVic's What is a database?)

Ageline  the major database for social gerontology; everything in this database is about older people, so it's a great place to start.  While it is not as  detailed as PsycINFO about methodology, you can find research article in the following way: click on the Thesaurus link at the top of the page and then search:  Research Techniques to find all the different types of research methods covered in Ageline, e.g.  Randomized Controlled Trials. 

PsycINFO  the major database  for finding articles on psychology and psychological aspects of related disciplines
Hint: go to Advanced search Limit results by Age Group, i.e. Aged (65 yrs & older), or add the Subject term: Aging.   You can Limit to "Peer-Reviewed Journal".  Another very useful way to Limit is by Methodology (e.g. Qualitative research) For more information see the Quick Reference Guide

Other  journal article databases:

Search engines:

Definition: Web sites or software that search the Internet for documents that contain a key word, phrase, or subject that is specified by the user to the search engine.

Peer-reviewed journals vs. predatory publishers

Journals in SFU databases are generally scholarly. Many, but not all, SFU databases have a Limit to peer-reviewed or scholarly journals
Is a particular journal peer-reviewed? What is the difference between a scholarly and a peer-reviewed journal? See the FAQ:What is a peer-reviewed journal? 

Publishing choices: Scholarly publishing 
from the the Library's Scholarly Publishing pages, aimed at researchers who wish to publish, but still useful

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
11,000 journals and counting.  Features a search function for finding articles

Evaluation criteria for research

Information about tests and scales



  • Mental Measurements Yearbook with Tests in Print This database has descriptive and evaluative information about tests. HINT: If you don't already have the name of a test, start with keywords such as elderly, older adults, or geriatric
  • PsycTESTS Index of psychological tests, measures, scales, surveys, and other assessment tools. In most cases actual test or test items provided." (or not)
  • Tests in print (as part of Mental Measurements Yearbook online]
  • SAGE Research Methods Online  Learn about qualitative and quantitative methods, and find quick definitions.  Includes videos, handbook, dictionaries, and encyclopedias

Finding assessment instruments

  • NOTE: Students are not  required to have the actual assessment instrument in hand. The tests are generally not easy to obtain, so instructors do not require them.
  • The tests listed in "Tests in print V" and "Handbook of tests and measurement in education and the social sciences" are usually for sale, and often at a high price.  
  • Sometimes the questionnaire is included at the end of the actual article:
  • For more information, please see the SFU guide Psychological tests and measurements

Working in groups (for all assignments)

Useful books

  • A dictionary of psychology [online]
  • A dictionary of statistics [print and online]
  • (Fundamentals of social research  [print] aka The Babbie - also older editions
  • Internet, mail, and mixed-mode surveys : the tailored design method [online]
  • (Methods in behavioral research [print] and older editions - includes a glossary for unfamiliar terms as well as study terms at the end of each chapter
  • (Measures of personality and social psychological attitudes [print and online)
  • Measuring health : a guide to rating scales and questionnaires [print and online]
  • (Measuring health : a review of quality of life measurement scales [print] Includes psychological scales)
  • (Principles of exposure measurement in epidemiology : collecting, evaluating, and improving measures of disease risk factors [print])
  • Find more books, search the Catalogue under Subjects such as: Questionnaires - MethodologySurveys - Methodology or Internet Questionnaires

Note: the thesaurus section of PsycINFO (at top of the main search page) is also a useful source of brief definitions of psychological term