Skip to Main Content

PSYD18: Psychology of Gender

Prof. Karen Dion

Workshop Materials

Workshop FAQ

Developing a Search

Q: How do I formulate a research question from a broad topic?
A: If you don't have any ideas about how to narrow your focus right away, it can be helpful to do some searches for your broad topic and then look at what sort of sub-topics come up in the results. This might give inspiration for a specific sub-topic that you can focus on.

Q: What is the difference between selecting the "peer reviewed" checkboxes at the top compared to scrolling down the page and selecting it in the box?
A: I hope this is what you're referring to! In PsycINFO, the "Peer Reviewed Journal" checkmark will have the same effect on results as the "Peer-Reviewed Journal" filter in the Publication Types box, so you can use either one. Note that neither option will limit to empirical studies or journal articles though, so it's important to apply those criteria using the Methodology and Document Types sections as well.

screenshot of applying a peer review filter in the PsycINFO database

Reviewing Results

Q: How should you go about adding or looking for additional articles?
A: To begin, incorporate subject headings into your search and add in related concepts using OR (remember, OR is more - it is going to broaden your search results). You can also look at reference lists of relevant articles and "Cited by" links within PsycINFO to find more recent articles.

If you're using the OVID version of PsycINFO, you can also scan the "Complete Reference" link of relevant articles, then check it's "Subject Headings" section for additional terms to add to your search:

Screenshot of the "Complete Reference" view in PsycINFO

Q: Is there a way to find out how frequently an article has been cited?
A: Yes! From the results page or the "Complete Reference" view, you can click on "Find Citing Articles" to see how many times an article has been cited. Note that this is only pulling citations from within the PsycINFO database, however. If you were to look up a journal article title in something like Google Scholar, it will generally have higher citation counts because it's not just pulling from a single database.

screenshot of how to find citing articles in the PsycINFO database

Q: Is the timeline (i.e. when the research is done) relevant when it comes to choosing literature?
A: It's very common in the sciences to look at literature published in the last 5-10 years, given how quickly evidence in the field can change. That being said, there are also times when it's important to look at historical changes in a topic over time or to be familiar with historically-significant papers that influenced the "trajectory" of a research topic. Generally my recommendation is to only apply date limits if it's a requirement of your course assignment.


Q: Are there ways to tell if an article is actually relevant without reading through it all?
A: Yes! Start by skimming your list of results using the title and abstract to identify potentially relevant papers. Then read through the full-text of selected studies, paying particular attention to key sections such as the Introduction, Methods, and Results.