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PSYC 240 Social Psychology: Search Strategies

Search Strategies: Keywords

Search Tips and Tricks: Keywords & Subject Terms

​Strategize Keywords to find information on your topic.
  1. Keep it simple: Use keywords and connect them to research your core ideas.
    • Example:
      • NOT: the emotional impact of loneliness on the newly widowed
      • YES: widow* AND loneliness: 
  2. Connect key ideas with AND or OR
    • Example: 
      • happiness AND adolescence
      • Happiness AND (adolescence OR adolescents OR teens)
      • NOT excludes results from your list. Ex: NOT reviews omits reviews. That is helpful if you are getting too many book reviews in your returns list.
  3. Truncation: Search for multiple forms of a root word with a truncation symbol * (asterisk - shift 8).
    • Example:
      • Ethnic* = ethnic or ethnicity
  4. Search phrases in quotation marks to keep your words together
    • Example: 
      • "gender roles" 
  5. Subject Terms: Use subject terms that are supplied by the databases rather than keywords to find the most precise and academic sources. 
    • Example:
      • Keyword =(" gender roles" OR "gender differences" 
      • Subject Term = gender differences (psychology)

Persevere! Use a variety of search terms to find different articles and articles from different points of view. 

The image below shows how to use database subject terms in two helpful ways:

  1. to find useful search terms
  2. to find ways to narrow down a search term

Image 1: To find useful search terms 


Image 2: Check the box next to a useful term.

  • The scope note tells you what they mean by that term
  • Browse the list of broader and narrower terms to find ways to focus your topic.

(click on image below to enlarge it) 



Search Strategies: Databases

Search Tips & Tricks: Databases 

Strategize what databases to search in for scholarship in social psychology

Holman Library has several useful databases for research in social psychology. 

  • Start with the Psychology & Behavioral Collection
    • Look for articles
    • Also look for relevant Subject Terms!
  • Search in other databases as well. Each database has its own collection of sources.

Then use the Holman Library One Search to search in all our databases.

  • NOTE: I do not suggest starting with One Search. It does not provide a robust set of subject terms. 
  • ALSO: Be sure to check the box by Full Text to add articles that are only indexed in our collection. That allows you to borrow useful sources through InterLibrary Loan! 


Power Searching on the Web

Become a power internet searcher!  Use advanced search techniques to get better results from your internet searches.

Search Strategies: Track Citations

Find a great article? 

Need to find full text? 
Have full text but want to track down references cited in the article? 

Tracking down citations and “abstract only” articles

Use these steps to track down citations from the References at the end of an article or to find the full-text of an article from an abstract.

  1. Step 1: See if we have it at Holman Library.

Use Holman Library One Search to search for books and articles in every database at once:

  • Type the article title or authors into our One Search tool to search across our databases and catalog.
  • Tip: Use just the first part of the title with no punctuation and be sure to enter it in quotes.
    • Example: "I Love You but"  

Alternatively, use Citation Linker and search by book, journal or article title. To do so: Use the link below:

  • Select source type (journal, book or article)
  • Paste - or type - in the title
  • Use just the first part of the title with no punctuation and be sure to enter it in quotes if it is longer than one word

Step 2: If we don't have it:

  • Search WorldCat to find it in another library's collection.
  • Fill out an InterLibrary Loan request to borrow it.

InterLibrary Loan (or ILL) is a service offered by Holman Library for borrowing books and articles from other libraries. 

  • Books and other items that require mailing may take 1-2 weeks.
  • Articles and other digital items may arrive within 2-5 days. Be sure to include your email as your contact info.

To request an item, use information you find in the citation to fill out the Student Interlibrary Loan form.

InterLibrary Loan requests are free to students, faculty and staff.