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PSYC 4820: Positive Psychology

A guide that assists you with locating scholarly sources; particularly peer-reviewed empirical journal articles


PsycINFO will be your primary source for empirical and peer-reviewed research articles.  Produced by the American Psychological Association (APA), this is the most comprehensive database in the area of Psychology. It indexes journal articles, books, chapters, and dissertations with more than 3 million records on peer-reviewed literature. 1872-present

Searching with PsycINFO

Formatting Your Search Query

Search With Keywords

The first step in searching a library database is to identify the main concepts or keywords for your research topic.  Do not use your entire research question as your search query.  Library databases are not like Google and extraneous words may disrupt your search.   Searching for keywords will help define your topic and focus your search.


Research Question Example


Do video games encourage violence in children?

  • children
  • video games
  • violence


You should also try thinking of synonyms or variations of your keywords.  Instead of just searching for children, you could also search for kid, adolescent, youth, etc.


Search Operators

You can combine these keywords to create a search query using the AND operator. The AND does need to be in all capital letters.

Your search query would look like this:  children AND video games AND violence

There are three main search operators.

  • AND – results will have all words
  • OR – results will have either word
  • NOT – results will not contain word

OR is useful for searching for synonyms of keywords.  If you are doing research on higher education, your search query could be:
education AND (college OR university) 
Use parentheses to keep OR statements organized in a query


NOT is useful if a certain topic that is not relevant to your search keeps coming up, and you want to remove it.  For instance if you want to focus on parenting styles outside the United States, your search query could be:

parenting styles AND child development NOT United States