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Library Subject Guides

Psychology: Assignment Research

UC Library Guide for Psychology


This page gives you tips for finding information for assignments.  Look in the tabs for other subject resources and topic guides. If you need further help finding information for your assignment, please contact the Psychology Subject Librarian.

1. Define your topic and develop a search strategy

Identify the key ideas in your topic

These words will form the basis of your search. To do a really effective search you will need to think more deeply about the search words you use. Consider what words a variety of authors writing about your topic might use.   

You will find your information more effectively by asking the following four questions about your key search words:-

What synonyms or related words might usefully be included in my search? e.g. adolescents / teenagers   intervention / treatment

What about search words with variant endings?
This is specially important for finding both the singular and plural of search words. e.g.child* finds child/children/childhood
Note that in many databases you can use an asterisk at the end of the root word to find other endings.

What about search words with different spellings?
This is important when searching international sources.  PsycINFO subject headings use North American spelling.  To do an effective search, you will need to incorporate both British and American spelling into your search, e.g. (behavior or behaviour).  PsycINFO enables you to use an asterisk as a wild card, behavio*r will find behavior or behaviour.   

How do I connect my search words?
How do we logically connect our search words to achieve our intended result?
Use or to connect synonyms and related words. Place brackets around words connected with or. e.g. (domestic violence or family violence).
Use and when you want to focus your search by adding in additional words e.g. child development and attachment
More information about connecting search words

Experiment with combinations of search words to find the ones that retrieve the best information for your topic.

2. Gather background information

Use dictionaries and encyclopaedias to find definitions and background information. Articles from specialised subject encyclopaedias are authoritative Referenceand often substantial.

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3. Find books

booksSearch the UC Library catalogue or MultiSearch to find books on your topic

  • Recommended reading may be in the High Demand collection.
  • Use Title and Keyword searches to find additional material.
  • When you find a useful title, click on its subject headings to find books on similar subjects.
  • Browse the library shelves in the classification sequence for Psychology (BF - level 11 & RC-RJ - level 4)
  • Use the Reference Lists in your textbook and other recommended reading to find additional material.

4. Find journal articles

Journal articles are very important as they publish the latest academic research on a topic. To find journal articles, you'll need to search the recommended databases for Psychology.  PsycINFO is the key database for finding psychology journal literature.  Read more on:

Contact margaret.paterson (Subject Librarian for Psychology) for help with effectively searching databases to find the information you need.

5. Evaluate your sources

References recommended on reading lists will already have been evaluated for quality. You'll need to evaluate sources that you find yourself. Think critically about the information you find. The quality of your information has an effect on the quality of your assignment.

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6. Cite your sources

citeAvoid plagiarism by citing all the sources of information you use in your essay using APA style.

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7. Write your assignment