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Spark 001 (Avilla)

Library Research Guide for The Psychology of College Life

Look for Synonyms

Look for keywords in your research question.  Extract them.

Consider if there are other terms for your main concepts.

As you are searching, you can also identify new keywords that perhaps you did not think of.


You may want to search for freshmen.  However, the term first-year might also be used to represent incoming students into college.

Online Research: Tips for Effective Search Strategies

Boolean Operators

Use AND / OR to join search terminology.

  • OR - joins similar terms / terms that get at the same issue BROADENS
    • college OR university OR higher education (similar terms joined with OR)
  • AND - joins dissimilar terms NARROWS
    • freshmen AND transition AND anxiety (dissimilar terms joined with AND)

Sample Search (with OR and AND)

adjustment OR transition


freshmen OR first-year


employment OR "campus job"


Phrase Searching " "

It is common to search for a specific phrase with "quotation marks ".  It narrows results.  Most databases will recognize the using of quotation marks to search for two works together.


"campus job"

"academic success"

"emotional adjustment"

"locus of control"

"college student development"

"first year student"