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Psychology 12: Creating a Search Strategy

Search Strategies Matter!

There are several factors that will impact the type of information, the relevance of the information, and how much information you find - whether too much or too little. The videos and resources on this page provide tips on selecting the most appropriate searching language and successful search strategies appropriate for your sources and for the focus of your research.  It is worth the time at the beginning stages of your research to build up a word bank of key words, concepts, and names related to your topic. Think about synonyms and related terms including short phrases for your topic and record them in a document or by using the Build a Word Bank for Search Terms worksheet attached on this page.

Tools for Creating a Research Strategy

Google Search Tricks

Tips & Tricks for Searching Online

Google Web Search

Not all Search Engines Are Equal

An article comparing two popular search engines - Google and DuckDuckGo - with pros and cons including different levels of privacy, speed, and accuracy.

How to Search on Google

Many articles from Google on how to do effective searches, including a form for doing Advanced Searches.

Google Search vs Searching in an Article Database or Library Catalog

Summary of the Video


  • Be as specific as you can when you search to cut down on the number of results. Search engines such as Google, will look for your keywords in the titles, URLs, and full text in articles and Web pages. This is why you can get millions of results for your search. 
  • Use search operators (special characters and commands) to help you find the most relevant content.
  • Use Advanced Search to narrow your search.

See the Video or the "Tips & Tricks" sidebar opposite for links to lists and explanations of site operators.


  • Article databases and library catalogs are a collection of bibliographic records. Each record is made up of fields (e.g. title, author, subject, series, ISBN). These records contain important information about each item (article, book, journal, etc.).
  • The database or catalog will search for your keywords or phrases in the records, which do not contain full text. That is why you will get fewer results than the millions you'll get from a search engine on the Web.
  • Use keywords and phrases together with Boolean Operators (AND, OR, BUT), an Advanced Search, and filters in order to narrow your search. 
  • You have access to full text articles in your school library collection of databases. If you find an article on the Web through Google Scholar you might not get access to full text articles as they are only accessible with a subscription to the journals where the articles were published. However, your librarian might be able to get you the articles via interlibrary loan.

Developing Keywords

Boolean Operators and Truncation