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PSYC 1300 - General Psychology


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:

Starting Your Research

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

  • Decide what information you need
    • How are you going to support your thesis? What topics do you need to cover? An outline may be helpful.
  • Determine what resources you can use.
    • Does your assignment call for peer-review research? Or are magazine and internet articles acceptable? Do you need a book? What about newspaper columns or blogs?
  • Identify the best database(s) for your research
    • Our databases can be found by going to and clicking on the purple "databases" button
    • Need help choosing one? See Finding Sources to get you started, or ask a librarian using the "Get Library Help" box to the left
  • Search for the information
    • Use the search tips in this guide to make your searching more efficient
  • Evaluate the information
    • Make sure your sources are relevant and appropriate to your topic and your assignment
  • Build a case based on the information
    • Put all of your resources together and use them to support your thesis

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
Related Terms

Anxiety disorder
Conditioned Fear

Psychological aspects
Health attitudes

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."

fears and in your head keyword search 38 results


As you can see, I only got 38 results. BUT, what happens if I try "phobias" and "psychological aspects"?

phobias and psychological aspects keyword search over 1000 results

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:

Formatted Boolean search using AND, OR, and NOT

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.

  • Abnormal psychology
  • Adolescent psychology
  • Cognition
  • Criminal psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Emotions
  • Human behavior
  • Meaning (Psychology)
  • Motivation (Psychology)
  • Positive psychology
  • Self-acceptance
  • Social psychology
  • Stress (Psychology)