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PSY 300 - Research Methods

Search Terms

When doing a search it's helpful to come up with several synonyms for each search term and try different combinations of terms. Pay attention to which terms yield the best results.

For example, if you're looking for information about violence and video games, try using some of the following terms:

  • Violence: Aggression, Domestic violence, bullying, abusive, cruel
  • Video Games: Massively multi-player online game, first-person shooter, console game, computer game, arcade game

As you search, you may see other terms popping up repeatedly. If they're relevant to your search, try adding them. 

For example, when searching for violence and video games you may start to see the term desensitization in results and try adding that to your search.

Boolean Logic

Boolean operators are used to narrow or broaden a search, they include AND, OR, and NOT. Using all-caps in OneSearch is important, and you'll get different results by using lowercase. Here are some examples of how to use boolean operators:

Honey AND Badger  --- Returns instances where both "Honey" and "Badger" are mentioned in the record

Honey NOT Badger --- Returns instances of the word "Honey", but not where "Badger" is included in the record

Honey OR Badger   --- Returns instances where either "Honey" or "Badger" are mentioned in the record

Created by Erica DeFrain from the Bailey/Howe Library at the University of Vermont.


Quotes can be used to identify and search for a specific phrasing of words strung together. Quotes can be very useful for searching titles. 

For example:

  • The Color Purple
    Searches for any instance of the term color or purple, ranking items where they are together more highly.
  • "The Color Purple" 
    Searches for instances for the exact phrase "The Color Purple."