Search different spellings and plural/singular
An asterisk (*) or truncation symbols means I don't care how it ends e.g. behav*
Use quotation marks " " to search for a particular phrase e.g. "cognitive dissonance"
Proximity searching lets you search for two words near each other e.g. ankle N2 sprain* will look for those words within two words of each other in any order
Avoid typing sentences into the search box. Always use AND or OR between different ideas:
Subject headings vs keywords
Natural language words that describe your topic
Pro: Easy to combine terms
Pro: Can search for them anywhere in the source
Con: Can be difficult to narrow results
Con: Might retrieve irrelevant results
Pre-defined vocabulary that describes your topic
Pro: Can quickly rule out irrelevant sources
Pro: Often retrieves more accurate results
Con: Harder to combine terms (need to know which terms exist)
You can improve your search results by combining the keywords you brainstorm with the subject headings each database uses to categorize articles. These headings or tags are added to articles to make them easier to find and group.
In PsycINFO, the subject headings are called APA Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms
In Medline/PubMed, the subject headings are called MESH
In CINAHL, the subject headings are called CINAHL headings
In SportDiscus, the subject headings can be found in the Thesaurus.
Strategy 1: Carefully review the references of relevant articles you've found
Rubio, C., Osca, A., Recio, P., Urien, B., & Peiró, J. M. (2015). Work-family conflict, self-efficacy, and emotional exhaustion: A test of longitudinal effects. Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 31(3), 147–154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rpto.2015.06.004
Strategy 2: Use Google Scholar or Scopus to find out who cited the articles you've found
What is a literature review?
It describes and evaluates the research that has been done in a particular area of research.
Why do it?
What is it for?
Literature reviews should synthesize and compare studies that discuss different aspects of your topic, depending on your purpose (for example, you might compare experimental method, population studied, theoretical framework, etc.).
Here are some questions to consider as you read articles
These questions can help you keep track of comparable aspects of the articles you find. They can also guide your search for more articles related to the one(s) you've already found.
Research documentation template
Documenting your search process with save you time and effort. Below is a search documentation template that will get you started.
Citation management tools