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Commerce Subject Guide: COMM 2301: Organizational Behavior I

A guide to key databases, reference & web sources, and research & citation guides for Commerce.

COMM 2301: Organizational Behaviour

Clarifying OB Concepts & Theories
Literature Review

Finding Peer-reviewed Articles
Citing Sources


Clarifying OB Concepts & Theories:

It is important to be able to clearly define and understand the concepts or theories you will be writing about. For clarification of the meaning, key issues or controversies, related search terms, such as key people, or alternative terms, start with a good textbook or reference book. For example:

21st Century Management: A Reference Handbook. HD 30.4 .T94 2008 REF. (2 v.)
- has essays written by scholars from around the world on key issues and topics faced by managers.

Encyclopedia of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. HF 5548.8 .E498 2007 REF. (2 v.)
- Brief but useful articles explain OB theories, concepts, research methods and issues.

Encyclopedia of Management Theory. HD 30.15 .E493 2013 REF. (2 v.)
- Describes the main frameworks, theories and schools of thought informing management practice.

The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Psychology. HF 5548.8 .O94 2012 Book Stacks (2 v.)
- Advanced summaries of the latest research and issues in the field, with references.

Sage Handbook of Organizational Behavior. HD 58.7 .S24 2008 REF (2 v.)
- Has interesting essays on OB issues summarizing key research.


Literature Review:

What is "the literature"?  In all disciplines, the traditional medium for communicating the results of original research (empirical evidence) is publication in a peer-reviewed, academic or scholarly journal.To ensure the quality, originality, and significance of each article published in these journals, article manuscripts are first reviewed by peers: other scholars working in the same field. (Peer review process) The articles published in peer-reviewed, academic journals then form a permanent record of the accumulated knowledge (the findings and analyses) of researchers in each field. 

How do you review the literature? Use databases of the best journals in the field to find the latest peer-reviewed articles. Read the abstracts to find the most relevant empirical research, and analyze the findings. To write the review, organize your analysis of the articles found, summarizing the evidence in a way that makes the most sense for your purpose.

 TIP: Pay attention to the literature reviews within recent articles on your topic, or search for review articles, and build on these.

More information on how to structure and write a literature review:


Finding Peer-reviewed Articles:

Select article databases to search from the "A-Z List of Databases" on the library home page. Databases are listed alphabetically, by subject, and type. Recommended for this project: Two major Commerce databases: ABI/INFORM and Business Source Complete, which can be searched alone, or with other relevant databases:

ABI/INFORM Collection (Select  ABI/INFORM to start; search all business databases by clicking on "Change databases", "View by Subject", "Search Business subject area".)

Business Source Complete (Select BSC  to start; search also PsycINFO, PsycArticles, and SocINDEX by clicking on "Choose databases".)

ScienceDirect and the other major academic publisher databases, like Sage, Wiley, and Taylor & Francis may also be helpful.

NOTE:  Google Scholar searches across some of these sources, but also finds unpublished and pre-publication versions. Advanced search options are limited. To link to published articles in library subscription databases from GS, click on the menu icon, then Settings, Library Links, then type:  Mount Allison, check off MtA Libraries & Archives... and Save. 



Limit your search to peer-reviewed journal articles only.

Use Boolean operators to focus searches:

Use "AND" to combine keywords (narrow the search) e.g. employees AND benefits

Use "OR" to search for synonyms or variants of a term (broaden the search) e.g. stocks OR shares

Use parentheses when using 2 or more Boolean operators, e.g. employees AND (stocks OR shares)

Use " " (quotation marks) for a phrase (2 or more words together in the same order) e.g. "stock options"

Use * (truncation symbol) to get the root word and all possible endings e.g. "organizational behavi*"

Use ? (wildcard symbol) to replace a character within a word that can vary e.g. organi?ational (will find organizational and organisantional)

Change the search field to be more specific e.g. keywords in Abstract rather than in full text

Use subject terms where available (see in records found or by using the database thesaurus) to find articles specifically about the topic, and to search for concepts that have many keyword variants

Select methodology where possible: e.g. in PsycINFO: "empirical research". In ABI/INFORM,  classification code 9130 for "experimental & theoretical treatment"

Use other limiters where relevant (e.g. NAICS code for type of industry (in BSC & ABI or classification code for topic areas (ABI & PsycINFO)

Consider re-sorting results by date to see the most recent articles first

Take note of other relevant search terms found while searching and modify searches as needed.

Read the Abstract and see the article details before accessing the full text: Click on Abstract/Details (in ABI, or on the article title (in BSC).

To see the article, click on the HTML, PDF, or the  "Find @ MTA" link which links to the article in another database.

NOTE:  Use Novanet's Find a Journal tool to access articles for which you have a reference or citation from other sources. For articles not found, you can submit an interlibrary loan request.


Citing Sources:

Use the "Cite" button in ABI and BSC databases to get an APA-formatted citation for your article. (May need editing.)

The library website links to information about why and how to cite sources (See "Research Help" tab).  Included are several tip sheets on citing sources using the APA format: See: Research Help -- Citation Guides -- APA Style Guides

The full APA Manual is available in the library at: BF 76.7 .P83 REF. Ask for assistance at Access Services.

Questions about citing sources? Reference Librarians are available to help you through the Research Help Desk's Live Chat and at  For Commerce research questions please contact Laura Landon at