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Key resources for the study of psychology

Goldilocks Dilemma

Feeling a little overwhelmed by your search?Bike overloaded with packages

Information overload is a real thing!

If you are getting back too many results:

  • Be more specific with your search terms
    • Select narrower, more specific search terms
    • Add additional terms and connect with AND
    • Use quotation marks with phrases
    • Use subject headings instead of keywords
  • Utilize the search limiters
    • Search within the Abstract or Title fields specifically
    • Limit to a certain date range
    • Limit to certain types of publications
  • Search within a more narrow database
    • Instead of searching in the very large, multidisciplinary databases, search in a smaller subject-specific one

Heavy Overload / baskets on a moto by dee_. Used underCC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Frustrated by a lack of relevant search results?Frustrated guy

If your search doesn't return results, it's (normally) because you are searching:

  • With problematic terms
  • In the wrong place
  • For something that doesn't exist

If you are not getting back enough results:

  • Work with your search terms
    • Is everything spelled correctly?
    • Is there an alternative term that would work (examples: automobile instead of car or middle school instead of junior high)
    • Select terms that are more broad (example: Midwest instead of Indiana).  
    • If you had multiple search terms, try reducing the number of terms. If you had been connecting terms with AND, try using OR instead.
    • Try using a truncation symbol to give the search flexibility
  • Remove search limiters
  • Make sure you are searching in a appropriate place
    • Use the About or Help feature to learn more about the database. Make sure the subject and coverage are appropriate for your search.
    • Try searching in a large, multidisciplinary database like Academic Search Premier, JSTOR, or Google Scholar.
  • Take a break and try again later. 
  • If you are still struggling, ask a librarian!  

Frustration (was: threesixtyfive I day 244) by Sybren Stuvel. Used underCC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

When You Have Already Identified a Good Source

Backwards Reference Searching

What it yields:  

It looks into the sources that your author referenced. This means the sources have already been vetted by your author for credibility, and you know that they are related to the topic at hand. However, it also means that the sources must have been published before your original source, so you will be retrieving older materials.

A vintage-style pocket watch

How to do it: 

  1. Look through the reference page of your source. 
  2. Identify sources that seem relevant or interesting. 
  3. Track down the full-text of these sources.

Tools to use:

Forward Reference Searching

What it yields:  

Lego homeage to the Back to the Future movie. DeLorean flying in the sky.

It looks into the newer sources that have cited your original source. It is a good indicator that the sources will be on related topics and of good quality.

How to do it: 

There are several tools to help you identify which newer sources list your original source on their reference page.

Do You Remember ... The Future? by JD Hancock. Used under CC BY 2.0

Tools to use:


Email Butler University Libraries
Irwin Library: 317-940-9227
Science Library: 317-940-9937

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