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Research Guides | Library | Amherst College

PSYC-228: Abnormal Psychology

Brainstorming terms

Generate as many keywords as you can related to the main aspects of your topic!  This will help make sure you find relevant research even when the authors use slightly different language.

Review your search results for additional keywords and interesting research directions. You might find new paths for your investigation.

Search Strategy worksheet: You can use this worksheet to keep track of your keywords, subject terms, and search strings.

Combining terms: AND, OR, NOT

You can use the drop-downs in PsycINFO with AND, OR, and NOT to tell the database to include or exclude certain search terms. This will help you broaden, narrow, or focus your search.

AND: Putting AND in between keywords tells the database to get articles with all of these terms, which creates a narrower search.

screenshot of search using AND

example: social media AND loneliness AND teenagers will only bring back articles wth all of those words, so you'll get fewer articles.

OR: Putting OR in between keywords tells the database to get articles with any of these terms, which creates a broader search.

Screenshot of search using OR

example: teenagers OR adolescents will bring back articles that mention either teenagers or adolescents. This creates a broader search.

NOT: putting NOT in front of a keyword tells the database not to bring back any articles with that keyword. This can create a more focused search, especially if there are aspects of the topic that you're not interested in.

screenshot of search using NOT

Subject terms: hashtags for articles

Subject terms are tags that tell you the main topics in an article. They can help you make sure you've found all relevant material on a particular topic. You can use the Thesaurus to look up Subject Terms and add them to your search. PsycINFO will also suggest subject terms if you check the "Suggest Subject Terms" box before searching.