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Psychology 271

Key Databases in Psychology

Building Your Search

Boolean Operators

Search terms are joined with words called Boolean operators. These are in all caps. If you use the Advanced Search option in PsycInfo, you can set options on the left hand side, between boxes. 

OR: Using OR expands your results - results have either term or both: Words acceptance and defensiveness in a blob formed of two circles melded together

AND: Using AND narrows results - results only have both terms: two overlapping circles with an arrow pointing to the overlapped area. Words in circles are feedback and credibility

NOT: Using NOT excludes a term. This is used less frequently. Use it if there is one word that refers to multiple concepts and you only want a specific concept.

Choosing a Boolean Operator

When do you use which term?

  • Join synonyms with OR. Ex: children OR adolescents OR juveniles OR teenagers 
  • Join different search terms/concepts with AND. Ex: Children AND note taking
  • Narrow in your search with NOT. Ex: Children NOT adolescents

Combine these search strategies and terms to make your search. You can use parentheses to group terms together. Ex: (children OR adolescents) AND (note taking OR study strategies)

Search Tips

  • Use quotation marks to search a phrase. Ex: "note taking" Try both with and without quotes, as searching "note taking" might exclude "note-taking"
  • Check your spelling! 
  • Try synonyms - a thesaurus can be helpful. Remember, there's one built into PsycInfo
  • THERE IS NO PERFECT SEARCH. If you don't get the results you want with the first terms you try, try other options and other combinations. 


Linking to Full Text Articles

Watch this video to learn how to locate full-text articles from a database citation. Note that Full Text Finder is no longer used. You will now see "Click Here to Check for Full Text".