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PSYC 3980: Research Design

Tips

In most classes librarians advise students to narrow the topic as much as possible. For 3980,

  • Keep your topic broad.
  • Use "OR" Boolean searches to create larger groups of synonyms and related terms

Why? When searching for studies in PSYC 3980, you often need to narrow to specific characteristics in your study populations or specific methodologies. Limiting by these characteristics will decrease your results significantly. Keeping your searches broad will help balance that issue.

Concept searching

AND, OR & NOT are Boolean search operators. You can use these words to direct a database how to search for your concept terms.

OR

  • Creates a union search - all terms join to form one group.
  • Creates a larger set of results - broader searches
  • Works well for different spellings of the same word
  • Works well for different types or examples of the same concept

Boolean union search combinining types (sucralose OR aspartame OR saccharin)You can combine AND, OR, and NOT to build very complex searches by grouping each concept in parentheses.

(surcalose OR aspartame OR saccharin) AND headaches

You can use OR with dissimilar concepts, but watch out for the relevancy and result size. This example would need refining, but could be a useful starting point.

(cats OR dogs) AND "household pets" 

 

AND

  • Combines concepts to find an area of overlap
  • Creates a smaller set of results - more narrow searches

Boolean AND search - area of overlap between artificial sweetner and headaches

NOT

  • Is an exclusionary search that can be extremely effective when combined with a field search
  • Good for eliminating false hits
  • Good for eliminating terms that may broaden the search
  • Good for eliminating the wrong types of articles

In the following example, I want to look at different types of therapy that cats and dogs are used for, but I'm not interested in therapy to remove phobias about dogs or cats. Also, I happen to know that authors Samuel and Elizabeth Corson do research on drug therapy used for aggressive animals. That would be the wrong direction, so I want to exclude their articles.

Same of Boolean searching combined with fields (subject and author)

Search Strategy Builder

Search Strategy Builder

The Search Strategy Builder is a tool designed to teach you how to create a search string using Boolean logic. While it is not a database and is not designed to input a search, you should be able to cut and paste the results into most databases' search boxes.

  Concept 1 and Concept 2 and Concept 3
Name your concepts here    
Search terms Search terms Search terms
List alternate terms for each concept.

These can be synonyms, or they can be specific examples of the concept.

Use single words, or "short phrases" in quotes

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

SSB created by University of Arizona Libraries and located at GitHub