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Tips for Searching

When you’re searching for academic articles, here are a few tips for finding relevant sources:

  • Try a variety of search terms – Even if the words mean the same thing, searching for different terms will bring up different results. For example, if you search for children and adolescents, you’ll get different search results. Try all of the synonyms you can think of! To search for all of them at once, you can put them all in one search box with OR between them (children OR adolescents OR preteens OR young adults).  This will search for articles that use any of those terms.
  • Use different combinations of search terms – Try combining search terms to find articles you haven’t seen yet. If you’re searching in a database with multiple search boxes, put one key word or phrase in each box, as this makes it easy to switch up the keywords. If the database only has one search box, put AND in between the keywords (adolescents AND social media).
  • Use the limiters available in the database you’re searching in – All of the databases have limiters (either on the left or right of the search results page) that you can use to narrow down the search results if there are too many. It can be useful to limit the publication date, type of source, or population featured in the article, so look for the limiters as you’re searching. Check out our video tutorials for specific databases for more insight into the limiters available in each.

For more help finding sources, make an appointment with a librarian, or check out our Tips for Doing In-Depth Research video tutorial.

Using Zotero for research

Zotero is a free citation manager that is really useful for keeping track of and citing sources. With the internet browser extension, Zotero can automatically save citation information and full-text PDFs of articles from the databases, as well as metadata and links from websites. You can also organize the resources you save into folders, add tags, and save notes for each source.

This makes Zotero particularly helpful for big research projects, such as a final project or capstone. Zotero can also cite all of your sources at once, which can help get you started with your references page (though make sure to double-check the citations).

To start using Zotero, you can visit the Zotero website to download the program for your operating system and the browser extension for your preferred browser. You'll also need to set up a free Zotero account.

Once you have Zotero set up, check out our video tutorial on how to create citations!

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