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A guide for advanced research projects and supervised studies for psychology and neuroscience students.

Search Strategies

Task Why am I doing this? More help

Choose keywords from your topic to use as search terms.

Developing an effective search strategy will assist in retrieving better quality results when searching the library catalogue, databases and the internet.

Try using:

Boolean operators 

Phrase searching



Choose a relevant journal database to search for scientific articles on your topic. Visit the "Selecting Databases" tab in this guide to find a database that might contain articles on this topic. Journal articles provide the most current information and searching a database is a great way of locating articles on a specific topic.

Types of journals


Troubleshooting Your Search

  1. Check your spelling: Google your keywords to make sure you spelled them correctly.  Your search will not work if your keywords aren't spelled properly.
  2. Too many results? Add keywords to focus your search results. For example, if you tried searching the word pollutants, you might focus on a specific type (dioxins), industry (pulp & paper industry), and/or medium (water). Check your course notes or look at your current search results for more ideas on focusing your search.
  3. Too few results? Remove AND-ed concepts + add additional synonyms/related concepts with OR to broaden your search.
  4. Try descriptors: Using the database's own vocabulary (descriptors or subjects) can often vastly improve your search. Ask a librarian for assistance if needed.