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PSYC 3401: Experimental Psychology

Keeping a Research Log

A research log helps you manage your time and organize your research. By keeping track of which searches you have run and how successful they were, you minimize duplication and ensure that you have conducted a thorough search.

Database Thesaurus

The database thesaurus is an excellent tool when doing advanced searches. The thesaurus provides a list of the terms used to categorize articles in the database. In some databases, like PsycINFO, you can use the thesaurus to build your search and mark concepts so that they are weighed more heavily to improve your results.

In the thesaurus, some concepts will have a checkbox to mark a term as the major concept or explode it.

Major concept: the term marked will be a major point in any results

Explode: the database will search for related terms, including more narrow subject terms

Boolean Searching

Boolean operators are used to join your search terms together in order to make your search more or less specific.

illustration of two overlapping circles with the words colleges AND "polar bears"



AND is the most commonly used operator. When you use AND to join your search terms, you will only get results that include all of your terms. In this example, we will only get results that include the words colleges and polar bears.

illustration of two circles with space in between and words "Ohio Northern" OR "polar bears" 

OR makes your search less specific and will bring back more results. It is most helpful when searching for synonyms or closely related terms. In this example, we will get results that use just Ohio Northern, just polar bears, and results that include both terms.

Image of one circle with the words "Polar bears" NOT "Ohio Northern"


NOT is used to exclude a term from your search. It will make your search more specific and bring back fewer results. In this example, we will only get results with the term polar bears and no results with the word Ohio.

CAUTION: NOT should be used sparingly as it can remove potentially helpful results.