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Summer Bridge Academic Journal Club: Search Strategies

Summer Bridge Academic Journal Club is a graduate student club led by Tashelle Wright, Public Health Ph.D student. This research guide serves as a resource for some of the club's activities.

Phrase Searching

" "

To search for specific phrases, enclose them in quotation marks. The database will search for those words together in that order.

social media

body image

teenage girls

Boolean Operators (AND/OR)

AND, OR

Join together search terms in a logical manner.

1. Use OR to broaden your search. For example, if you search social media OR Snapchat, you will find articles that include either of these terms.

“social media” OR Snapchat

2. Use AND to narrow your search. For example, if you search Facebook AND  "teenage girls" you will only find articles that include both terms. 

Facebook AND "teenage girls"

3. You can also use AND and OR together. For example, the search below will find articles that refer to either the phrase "social media" or Instagram but that also refer to the phrase "body image."

("social media" OR Instagram)
AND
“body image”

Truncation

TRUNCATION

Truncate a word in order to search for different forms of the same word. Many databases use the asterisk * as the truncation symbol.

Add the truncation symbol to the word teen* to search for teen, teens, teenager, teenaged, etc.

You do have to be careful with truncation. If you add the truncation symbol to the word minor*, the database will search for minor, minors, minority, minorities, etc.

Limiters

LIMITERS

Databases also have limiters that can help you narrow your search results based on:

  • date
  • publication type (literature reviews, empirical articles, peer reviewed articles, magazines, newspapers, theses, etc.)
  • language
  • and more!

Keywords vs. Subjects

keywords vs subjects chart

Finding Subject Terms

  • When you find a relevant article, make sure to look at the subject terms listed. You can then look for articles with those subject terms to find other potentially relevant items.
  • Databases also have tools to help you discover subject terms. In PsycINFO, use the Thesaurus feature.  While mental health is an official term, there are related subject terms you may want to use in your search.
  • PsycINFO also has an explode feature that allows you to search for all of these related subbject terms in addition to the main term.