Welcome to the library research guide for PSYC 1300: General Psychology. This guide is designed to help you learn how to use the library's databases to find research.
Using the tabs at the left, you will find resources to help you:
Research can often be a messy and cyclical process. Sometimes you do the perfect search on the first try, and other times you have to repeat your searches multiple times with different combinations of keywords. Below are the basic steps of the research process
Searching in the databases isn't like searching in Google. Rather than whole sentences, you need to refine your topic into a few key terms and short phrases, known as keywords. You may want to start by writing out your topic and underlining the main concepts:
Topic: Are fears all in your head?
Next you may want to brainstorm synonyms and related terms in case your first search doesn't produce the correct results:
|Fears||In your head|
Once you have all of your keywords, you'll need to combine them in the database to perform a search. If your search doesn't work well with one combination, try another! For example, let's search the terms "fear" and "in your head."
As you can see, I only got 38 results. BUT, what happens if I try "phobias" and "psychological aspects"?
In this case, I got over a thousand results! So, if one search doesn't yield as many results as you thought it would, try another search with other terms. And, for more information on how to combine search terms in different ways, see the next box called Boolean Operators.
Boolean operators are used to make relationships between your search terms and to help broaden or narrow your search results. The three most common Boolean operators are AND, OR, and NOT (sometimes also referred to as ALL, ANY, or NONE).
AND connects two or more ideas, and will help to narrow your search results. The database will only return results that contain ALL of the words in the search boxes.
Example: students AND test anxiety
OR is useful to search alternate terms or synonyms for your original search terms. The database will return results with ANY of the words in the search boxes broadening your set of results.
Example: online learning OR distance education
NOT can be used to exclude search terms. This narrows your search by telling the database to ignore concepts that may otherwise be implied in your search terms. NOT can also be expressed as NONE of these terms.
Example: higher education NOT community colleges
The neat thing about Boolean operators is that they can be combined to make a search string that will help the databases search for exactly what you want while excluding what you don’t need.
Here’s what a full Boolean search might look like in the databases:
Subject headings are specific, controlled vocabulary terms used to describe the content of articles and books. They make content easier to find. Subject headings are created and agreed upon by an approving body (for instance, the Library of Congress, the National Library of Medicine), etc.