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PSYC 178: Advanced Topics in Developmental Psychology (Whitfield): Search Strategies

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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 your research, try focusing your topic by writing a one sentence research question.
    For example: How do moods affect a person's ability to make financial decisions?
  • Identify the main ideas in your research question.
    • moods
    • decision making
    • finances
  • Boil the statement down to keywords, or the most important elements of your issue.
    EX: moods; emotional states; affective disorders; decision making; judgment; money; finances
  • Use an asterisk to find variations of a word.
    EX: mood* will find mood, moods, moodiness
  • Then, separate the keywords with the "and" and "or" connectors
    EX: (mood* or emotion* or affective) and (decision* or judgment) and (mone* or financ*)

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


This search retrieved 72 peer-reviewed citations.

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

Last Revised on March 31, 2020

Social Sciences and Government Information Librarian