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Research Guides

Psychology (PSYC) 218 - Online [Pula]: Conduct a Literature Search

Need help? Reach out to Jylisa Doney (Social Sciences Librarian) for assistance.

Library Databases

Conduct a Literature Search

Library databases and Google Scholar are two of the best resources to use when conducting literature searches.

To find literature about a topic, we first need to identify the topic's key concepts.

Sample Topic: What mental health challenges do elderly Latino immigrants face?

  • Key concept 1: Mental health
  • Key concept 2: Elderly
  • Key concept 3: Latino
  • Key concept 4: Immigrants

The next step is to brainstorm related keywords or synonyms that also reflect the topic's key concepts.

Sample Topic: What mental health challenges do elderly Latino immigrants face?

Key concepts Related keywords
Mental health Mental illness
Elderly Older adults, aged, senior citizens, seniors
Latino Latin American
Immigrants Immigration, refugees

The final step is to select a library database and search for the topic using a few different search tricks.

Type your search terms into the search box in a library database or Google Scholar to find articles related to the topic.

Limit your search

Use the word AND (in capital letters) to limit the search by combining search terms.

Example: elderly AND immigrants

*You don't have to use AND in Google Scholar, just put the search terms next to each other

Example: elderly immigrants

Search for a phrase

Use "quotation marks" to search for a phrase instead of the individual search terms.

Example: "mental health"

Expand your search

Use the word OR (in capital letters) to expand the search by including synonyms or related keywords.

Example: Latino OR "Latin American"

Exclude search terms

Use the word NOT (in capital letters) to exclude terms from the search results.

Example: elderly NOT children 

Combine search tricks

Create more complex searches by combining search tricks and using (parentheses).

Example: (elderly OR seniors) AND immigrants AND Latino AND "mental health"