Most databases, although they look different, search in similar ways. You can search the databases in many ways to find relevant research, including:
- If the database has a thesaurus, use it to help you find appropriate subject terms.
- Use a keyword search for the specific subject you are interested in (autism, epilepsy, etiology, characteristics, intervention, etc.).
Constructing Your Search
- Use OR between search terms when you want to find either word, AND when you want both.
- Try truncating keywords using asterisks: autis* to get autism or autistic.
- Put phrases in quotes: “learning experiences” “family system”.
- Use limits to help find the specific kind of article you want. For example, APA PsycInfo® lets you limit by population or type of study (e.g. quantitative or qualitative).
- If you need empirical research articles and are having trouble finding them, try adding the words: “research methods”, data, results, discussion, study (not all of these words will appear in every article, so try using just a few or combining them in different ways).
- Try adding a keyword for a specific type of methodology, for example, quantitative, qualitative, ethnography, "case study."
- Look for a limit for professional (or scholarly) journal articles or peer-reviewed articles.
Here is an example of a search using PsycInfo:
- The first line shows the phrase, Austism Spectrum Disorders as it is searched using the thesaurus.
- The second line demonstrates searching synonyms, impact OR effects. Use OR means that results with have just one of those keywords.
- The third line has quotation marks, which means it will search for "family system" as a phrase instead of separate words.
- The fourth option shows the box to check to find articles from peer-reviewed, scholarly journals.