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PSYC 140: Behavior Analysis (Bell): Search Strategies

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Search Strategies

Searching databases for journal articles is a bit more challenging than using tools such as Google. The good news is that you have a lot more control over how you design the search. This also means you should get better, more targeted results.

  • Before you start searching, try focusing your topic by writing a one sentence research question.
    For example: What types of reinforcements are most effective in encouraging individuals to exercise regularly?
  • Identify the main ideas in your research question.
    • reinforcements
    • exercise
    • individuals
  • Boil the statement down to keywords, or the most important elements of your issue.
    EX: reinforcement, conditioning, positive, negative, exercise, sports
  • Use an asterisk to find variations of a word.
    EX: reinforc* will find reinforce, reinforcing, reinforcement
  • Then, separate the keywords with the "and" and "or" connectors 
    EX: reinforc* or condition*

The above search strategy in the PsycINFO database will look like this. Note that I changed "Select a Field" to "SU Subjects" for so only the index terms for this article are searched.

Two other elements were added to the following search. The search was limited to peer reviewed articles and empirical studies (see Methodology) only.

This search retrieved 239 citations.

NOTE: If you are not sure which terms to use, the PsycINFO Thesaurus is extremely helpful. It is accessible on the blue menu bar at the top of the page.

Last Revised on January 3, 2023

Social Sciences and Government Information Librarian