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PSYD98: Thesis in Psychology

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

Keywords Matter

Ask yourself three questions:

  1. What is my topic?
  2. What are the key aspects of this topic?
  3. What are alternate keywords for each aspect?

Brainstorm keywords to use in your search. Pick words that represent each key aspect of your topic. This can be challenging. The same idea can be expressed in many ways. To ensure the best results when searching, brainstorm several keywords whenever possible.

Sample Topic: CBT vs. Drug Therapy for Treating Depression

Let's say you were interested in finding research articles on the efficacy of cognitive behavioural therapy vs. drug therapy for treating depression. What are some keywords you could use?

Key concepts:

  • depression AND cognitive behavioural therapy AND drug therapy

Related keywords/synonyms for each concept:


  • Clinical depression
  • Major depression
  • Depressive disorders

Cognitive behavioural therapy:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (American spelling)
  • CBT

Drug therapy:

  • Antidepressants
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, SSRIs
  • Specific drugs, e.g. Prozac

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