Check out the library's self-paced tutorial How do I search library databases? to learn the basics of database searches.
1. How do I search for articles about my research question?
- Identify the keywords (main ideas) of your research question and use those as your search words.
- Each book and article has tags assigned to it, words or shorts phrases that make each book or article searchable
- You want your search words to match those tags.
- Words like impact, issues, effects, or factors are not used as tags
- Example topic: Does physical exercise have an impact on undergraduates with depression?
- Search words: exercise depression undergraduate*
- undergraduate* searches for undergraduate and undergraduates
2. I have too many search hits. How do I find what I need for my assignment?
- You can focus your search hits to:
- Academic Journals to focus to articles from peer-reviewed journals
- source type, such as journal articles, books, newspapers, or magazines
- publication date, so you get the most recent research
- Example: for your annotated bibliography, you are supposed to use peer-reviewed journal articles with current research:
- Under Refine Results:
- check the box beside Academic Journals
- move the Publication Date scroll bar over to 2010 to present
3. How do I know my search words match the tags assigned to articles about my research question?
- As you scroll through the search hits, look at the assigned Subjects (tags), and see if they match your search words
- Example: Many of the articles are tagged with the Subject college students. Some of the articles are tagged with physical activity, while some are tagged with exercise.
- Add physical activity and college students to your search
- New Search: exercise OR "physical activity" AND depression AND "college student*" OR undergraduate*
- "physical activity" searches for physical activity as a phrase, not separate words
- Use OR to combine key concepts with their synonyms within the search box
- OR finds sources tagged with any of these search words/phrases
- Use AND to combine search boxes
- AND finds sources tagged with all of the key concepts
- Subjects (tags) also help you identify the specific issues around your topic so you can give it direction and develop it into a researchable topic
4. How do I preview the abstract/summary of articles from the list of search results?
- Click on the title link to open the full article record, which includes the article abstract and other information about the article such as author affiliation and citation information
5. How do I access the article so I can read the whole thing?
- Look for pdf Full Text or HTML Full Text links
- Click on the Check 360 Link for Full Text link to see if this article is available to read in other library databases
6. How do I focus search hits to review articles like literature reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses?
- Under Refine Results, scroll down to Methodology and click on show more
- Check the boxes beside Literature Review, Systematic Review, and Meta-Analysis and then click on Apply
7. How do I identify Populations, Methodologies, and Tests for my research area?
- Under the Refine Results sidebar:
- click on Methodology to see a list of methodologies used
- click on Age, Gender, and Population to see a list of populations studied
- Check the box beside Adulthood to focus search hits to articles studying adults or Young Adulthood
- click on Tests & Measures to see a list of tests and measures used
- Go to Find Tests once you've chosen a test for your experiment to get the test
8. How do I identify articles that cite an article I've chosen?
- Web of Science: use the Web of Science database to identify articles that cite your article:
- Enter your article title and select Title from the dropdown menu by the search box
- Look for Times Cited: # to the right of your search hits - click on the number to get a list of articles that have cited your article
- Click on Full Text from Publisher to read the article
9. I can't find anything on my topic. What do I do?
- The search words you're using to describe your topic may not match the tags that PsycINFO or PsycARTICLES uses for your topic
- Use the PsycINFO Thesaurus to identify the words that PsycINFO and PsycARTICLES use to describe your disorders or topics
- There may not be research tying your main ideas together yet
- Try searching for your main ideas separately and linking their findings together
- If you've found one article that's relevant for your topic, look through the sources in its References list to see if any of them are also relevant to your research