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PSYC 120: Perception: Search Strategies

Search Strategies

Searching databases for journal articles is a bit more challenging than using tools such as Google or Bing. 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: How does visual perception influence a person's assessment of a musical performance?

  • Identify the main ideas in your research question.
    • visual perception
    • music
    • evaluation
  • Boil the statement down to keywords, or the most important elements of your issue.
    EX: visual perception, music, evaluation, assessment, perceiving

  • Use an asterisk to find variations of a word.
    EX: music* will pick up music or musical or musician

  • Then, separate the keywords with the "and" and "or" connectors 
    EX: "visual perception" and music* and assess* or evaluat* or perceiv*

The above search strategy in the PsycINFO database will look like this. Note that for the first two lines, I changed "Select a Field" to "SU Subjects" so only the index terms for this article are searched. This helps to find articles that are more on-target. You can also limit your search to "peer reviewed" publications so you search only the academic literature. This is listed among the options below the search box

This search retrieved 86 peer-reviewed citations.

NOTE: If you are not sure about what terms to use, the PsycINFO Thesaurus is extremely helpful.

Last Revised on March 30, 2017