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PSYCH 201: Research Methods - Millman

Using The Thesaurus

Use the Thesaurus in PsycINFO to determine your search terms. For example, PsycINFO suggests using the term Drug Abuse instead of Substance Abuse for a subject search. Other databases have similar directories. Look at:

Subject Terms in Academic Search Premier and SocINDEX

MESH in Medline and PubMed

Search Tips

Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT)

AND - narrows a search; Use to combine key concepts, for example: social studies AND teaching methods.

OR - broadens a search; Use to add concepts, for example: drugs OR alcohol.

NOT - excludes search term(s). Use to eliminate a concept, for example: children NOT infants. Use sparingly!

For more details, see Using Boolean operators.

Phrase Searching (quotation marks)

Use quotation marks to search a phrase, for example: "higher education"

Truncation or Stemming or Wild Cards

Use a truncation symbol, such as *, ? or # to find several words with the same root, for example:

child* (finds child, children, childish and childhood)

writ# (finds writer, writers, writing and writings)

behavio?r (finds behavior and behaviour)

Use a truncation symbol when there multiple spellings of a name or word, for example:
Kath* (finds Katherine, Kathryn, Katharine, Katheryn, Kathrine, Kathryne)

Field Searching

Electronic records are organized into separate fields. A typical record includes the following major fields: title, author, and subject. Databases often have several other fields, such as keyword, location, date, and journal title.  Most catalogs and databases allow users to search specific fields individually or in combination. For

  • Use a title search for the fewest number of results
  • Use a full text search for largest number of results
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