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PSY 356 Research Methods for Psychology: Getting Started

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Formulating Your Search Strategy

The first step in the search process is getting a grip on the key terms.  For an example, let's try the following hypothesis:

Women are more likely to conform than men.

First, we isolate the important phrases; in this case, "women," "men," and "conform." We can use these phrases as starting points for a list of synonymous terms, broader and narrower topics, related words, and reversed word orders. Here's a quick list:

  • women
  • females
  • femininity
  • men
  • males
  • masculinity
  • conform
  • conforming
  • conformity
  • social norms
  • social influences

Phrases are searched as keywords unless they are surrounded by quotation marks (" ").

Another helpful tool is truncation. Using an asterisk (*) at the end of a root of a word will search all endings. For example, a search with "conform*" searches the following:

  • conform
  • conformed
  • conforming
  • conformity
  • conforms

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