Refine your topic: an overly-broad search will return an unmanageable number of results, while a topic that is too narrow won't produce enough information. Play around with your search terms until you find a topic that is researchable.
|Broad Topic >||Narrowed Topic >||Focused Topic >||Research Question|
|Women's health||Women & cancer||Women smokers & breast cancer||Is there a connection between cigarette smoking and breast cancer risk?|
|Computer games||Computer game violence||Computer game violence & children||How does violence in computer games affect children?|
|Eating disorders||Teens & eating disorders||Teen peer pressure & bulimia||What role, if any, does peer pressure play in the development of bulimia in teens?|
Choose keywords: once you have chosen a topic, you need to identify key words that you can use to search databases. Do some research to find out if there is "official" terminology related to your topic. You may have to try a number of synonyms until you find the one that is best for your search. Tip: some databases also use specific terms called descriptors/controlled vocabulary to organize articles. Knowing the descriptors for your topic makes it easier to find relevant articles.
More Tips for Using Effective Keywords
BOOLEAN OPERATORS: AND | OR | NOT
Combine terms: once you identify the best terms for your topic, put them together with Boolean operators such as AND (for more precision in your search), OR (to enlarge the pool of results), or NOT (to exclude possible elements unrelated to your topic). These techniques work in most databases, as well as in Google.
Some databases will have the AND/OR/NOT operators built in. In those cases, you can change them using the drop down filters or ignore them and write in the operators manually.
You can also craft specific searches by selecting the fields you want the keyword to appear in
WILDCARDS: ? | *
Use a question mark (?) for a single character wildcard search. For example, if you used the search term "wom?n", you will find records that contain the words "woman," "women," "womyn," "womxn," etc.
Use an asterisk (*) for a multiple character wildcard search. For example, if you used the search term "teen*," you will find records that contain the words "teen," "teens," "teenager," and so on
Note: A wildcard cannot be used at the beginning of a search term. The system will ignore the wildcard if you do so.
The article record can be a very helpful resource when evaluating articles and brainstorming for new keywords and directions. You will find a breakdown similar to this on most databases including OneSearch. The yellow highlight shows the various categories that can be used as search terms fields, such as author name, journal title, and population of interest for the study. The pink highlight shows fields you can use to find new language you can incorporate in your own searches, such as keywords and subject terms.
PsycINFO has many useful search filters. You will need to scroll down to find them.
Scopus, the database, allows you to sort your search results by the number of times an article is cited.
1. Google Scholar gives you the number of times an article is cited. Unfortunately, you cannot list search results by the number of times, an article is cited in Google Scholar. This makes Google Scholar less effective for citation searches.
Notice that the same article by George B.Graen and Mary Uhl-Bien entitled “Relationship-based approach to leadership: Development of leader-member exchange (LMX) theory of leadership over 25 years: Applying a multi-level multi-domain perspective” reports a different citation count when you compare the results between Scopus and Google Scholar.