In graduate school, you were probably required to write some papers that led you to cite literature from academic journals which hold the latest, cutting-edge research in our field. You likely had access to endless research databases through your university library and you had ample resources at your fingertips.
But since you’ve graduated, lost access to those university library resources, and are working in the field, how do you keep up with research?
Although I’m back in school, I did spend about 8 months isolated from any university library system in which I had to get creative in how I sought new research. Here are some tips!
Join professional organizations and receive their journals and newsletters for free.
Professional organizations have so many benefits from networking, job opportunities, conference and traveling opportunities, and access to academic journals and newsletters.
Membership in the American Counseling Association (ACA) will grant you access to the Journal of Counseling and Development (JCD) as well as the Counseling Today magazine.
ACA serves as an umbrella organization for 20+ more specific divisions, regions, and branches. Examples include: the Associations for Child and Adolescent Counseling (ACAC), the Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling (ALGBTIC), the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD), International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors (IAMFC), Counselors for Social Justice (CSJ), and so many more. Which population do you serve? There’s likely a division dedicated to it! Click the link to find a division that best fits your practice and interests. Most of these divisions have journals specific to research in these sub-fields of counseling as well as periodic newsletters that are sent out to members.
Utilize social media sites to stay connected.
Many of the professional organizations and divisions have social media pages.
Let’s face it, we’re on social media more than we’re sifting through academic journals these days. “Liking” or “following” their pages on social media is an easy way to stay connected to the latest trends and research.
Attend conferences, workshops, and webinars.
ACA hosts an annual conference and expo, as well as many of the other divisions and branches. Check their websites for more information — There just might be a conference in your backyard coming soon!
In addition to the continuing education (CE) opportunities offered at conferences, many organizations also offer free CE units through webinars and workshops throughout the year. You can gain access to these by joining a professional organization! Membership is like the gift that keeps on giving.
Dedicate time to read at least 1 new article per week.
Once you’ve joined the professional organizations, connected with their social media pages, and committed to attending a conference or webinar, you’ve got all the goods in your lap. Now what?
One way that I collect literature to read is to have a folder somewhere on my laptop computer, and whenever I find an online or academic article, I save it to this folder which is located on my desktop.
Next, you want to commit yourself to a reading schedule for some accountability. I suggest setting aside time to read at least 1 new article per week, depending on the length of the articles you’ve saved.
Keeping up with research is important for many reasons:
- It is part of our ethical obligation as counselors to stay abreast of best practices in the field.
- It can help you to remain connected to other professionals in the field for networking and support purposes, preventing burnout and compassion fatigue.
- It can help you to serve your clients better!