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Educational Psychology

Database Search Tips

Before You Start Searching...

Interfaces and search options vary across databases, but best practices for searching are relatively consistent across interfaces. No matter which database you choose, remember these important tips...

1) Don't search wth your topic as a single phrase! Determine the key concepts of your topic. Then place each concept in its own search bar.  For example...

Image of sample database search: line 1, college students; line 2, retention; line 3, first generation

2) Use ORs to string together synonyms or related terms for core concepts...

Image of sample database search: line 1, college students OR undergraduates; line 2, retention OR completion OR persistence; line 3, first generation OR first in family

3) Use truncation, when appropriate. Adding an * to the end of a word will catch all forms of that word. For example, teach* will return teach, teachers, teaching, etc.

Image of sample database search: line 1, college students OR undergraduates; line 2, retention OR complet* OR persist*; line 3, first generation OR first in family

4) Use proximity searches to force a relationship between two terms. This isn't always needed, but is sometimes super helpful. Completion is a common word that may come up in many context. The search below means that the word complete or completion must appear within two words of college in the article title and abstracts.

Image of sample database search: line 1, college students OR undergraduates; line 2, retention OR (college n2 complet*) OR persistence; line 3, first generation OR first in family

5) Look for the "peer reviewed" limit in each database. You can set this limit on the main search screen (before you search) or narrow your results after you've started your search.

6) Set date limits as appropriate for your topic..

Image of database "limit to" box: Full text, (checked) Scholarly (peer reviewed) Journals, Cover Story, and Publication Date slider

 

Where's the Article?

If you don’t see a .pdf of the article you want, click Find it to find it in another database or in print in the Libraries.

If it is only in print in the Libraries or we don’t own the article, click Get scan to have the article emailed to you. This option will take a few days.

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