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Find sources for your psychology assignments.

Keywords and Search Terms in Psychology

Searching in the library's resources depends on the keywords - or search terms - you use. Instead of searching for a whole question or sentence, break your topic into keywords. Mix and match different combinations of keywords to get different results when searching. Also, think of similar or related terms you can search for.

For example:

Research question: How does childhood abuse impact adult mental health?

Possible keyword combinations:

  • child abuse AND mental health
  • childhood abuse AND adult depression
  • anxiety AND childhood neglect

Mix and match different keywords to find different articles.

Need more help with keywords? Ask a librarian or watch the video below:

Narrow Your Topic

A successful research project or paper starts with a topic that is the right "size". If your topic is too broad or too big, you'll find too many sources. If your topic is too narrow or too small, you won't find enough sources. You may need to brainstorm different aspects you want to focus on in order to help you narrow your topic.

For example, researching 'body cameras in policing' will give you too many resources to create a focused paper or assignment. If you're unsure how to narrow your topic, use the "W" questions:

WHO - Is there a particular population you want to focus on?

WHERE - Is there a particular location you want to focus on? A particular city or region? Urban areas or rural?

WHEN - Is there a particular time frame you are interested in?

WHAT - What aspects are interesting to you? (Be curious!)

WHY - Why is this topic important?

Filtering and Limiting Results

  • On the results page, pay attention to the total number of results
  • If you have many results (for example, ~10,000 or more), you can remove the kinds of results that don't match your search using the options on the left panel of the screen
    • Use the Source Type field to show only certain kinds of materials, such as Academic/Scholarly articles or Trade Journal articles
    • Use the Publication Date to limit to a specific date range, such as only articles published within the last five years

Related Research Guides

Use these additional research guides for more help finding sources.