Q: Is Wikipedia ok to use when getting started?
A: Wikipedia is a great tool for doing background research and getting a broad overview of your topic; you can also check the References section of a Wikipedia entry for relevant studies (but double-check to make sure that they're peer-reviewed, empirical articles). If you find a good article, you could even try creating a "Title" search in PsycINFO to a) see if it's indexed in the database, and if so, b) go to its Complete Reference page to look for relevant Subject Headings:
Step 1: Conduct a 'Title' search in PsycINFO.
Step 2: If the article is available in PsycINFO, check its 'Complete Reference' page for relevant Subject Headings; you can then use these terms to create a search strategy for similar articles.
Q: Can we use other search engines such as Google Scholar, so far as we are looking at peer-reviewed articles?
A: Google Scholar can definitely be a useful place to check and makes a great supplement to PsycInfo. However, keep in mind that it will pull in a lot more results from across many disciplines, which can make results irrelevant and tedious to sort through. Results retrieved from the Google Scholar search engine are also not guaranteed to be peer reviewed, so if you find any results of interest, it's important to verify that they've gone through a peer review process.
Q: What is the use of "AND" and "OR" in a search?
A: "AND" is used to combine distinct concepts in a search. It narrows your search by pulling in only articles where both search terms are present (e.g. mindfulness AND depression). "OR" is used to combine synonyms or related concepts in a search. It will broaden your search to pull in articles which use different terminology around a shared concept (e.g. happiness OR well being OR life satisfaction).
This video from McMaster Libraries provides an overview of each, as well as the third Boolean Operator "NOT."
Q: Is there an easier way to use the keywords instead of AND/OR?
A: Databases like PsycINFO rely on combining concepts using the AND/OR functions, so this is a necessary step when developing your search.
Q: How do I broaden my topic/what do I do if I get too few results?
A: There's a few things you can try to increase your number of results:
Q: How do I narrow down a topic/what do I do if I get too many results?
A: There's a few things you can try to decrease your number of results:
Q: Does OVID work with other databases/would these databases have the same search mechanics?
A: Yes, it does! OVID is a platform that hosts a number of different databases, including PsycInfo. While there are some nuances from database to database (for example, the designated subject heading for a term may vary slightly between databases), the base process for searching within OVID is the same. You can see a list of some key OVID databases on our Popular databases page, under the OVID (Interdisciplinary) heading, which also includes a link to the full list of OVID databases available through U of T.
Q: What to do if I cannot find a full article using library resources?
A: Feel free to email me for assistance or stop by the Information and Reference Desk in the Library. If UofT doesn't have the article, we can request it free of charge from another library.
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