Skip to Main Content PCC Library Logo

Psychology Research Guide

Resources for students in Psychology courses at Pasadena City College

Coming Up with Search Terms

Search Strategies

1.   Brainstorm keywords and synonyms. Examples...  

  • aggression
  • video games
  • violence
  • children

Don't forget to check the PsycARTICLES thesaurus!

PsycARTICLES thesaurus

2.   Use AND to focus your search on a smaller result set. Examples... 

  •  video games AND violence
  •  teenagers AND social media AND loneliness

3.  Use OR to link synonyms and gain a larger result set. Examples... 

  • Facebook AND [teenagers OR adolescents OR youth]
  • technology AND [overuse OR addiction]

4.  Put quotations around your terms for exact searches
  Example: "self esteem"

                          "social media"

Develop a research plan

ASK QUESTIONS TO DEFINE YOUR TOPIC Or    A 'concept map' may be helpful: 

 Who?        What?       Where?       When?          

             Why?         How?          So What?

What is the definition?

What other words could be used to research this topic?

What are some causes ?

What are some results or consequences ?

What larger social or political issues are related to this topic?

research concept map showing a large circle reading 'what is required?' with smaller circles overlapping it with labels such as 'definition' and 'recent examples'[source]