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FAS 500: Research Methods: Make Your Search More Successful

This guide is intended for graduate students in a research methods class in the School of Social and Family Dynamics.

Strategies for Successful Searching

  • Link concepts with the word AND. For example, a good way to find articles on how people feel about the death penalty would be to search: public opinion and death penalty 
  • If there are different ways to say the same thing, consider using the linking word OR. For example, death penalty is also often referred to as capital punishment. To make sure you find all of the relevant articles, you can search it like this: death penalty or capital punishment
  • Adding an asterisk at the end of a word will get alternative word endings. A search on child* will find the word child, but will also find childhood and children. Very handy! (Note that this does not work in Google Scholar).
  • To retrieve an exact phrase enclose it in quotation marks. "Video game violence" will limit your search to that exact phrase. But be careful; often that will limit your search too much at the beginning. Try your search without quotation marks first.
  • Remember to check the box that says "peer-reviewed" or "scholarly". This will make sure you get the kind of research that you probably need for your assignment.
  • If you are not finding what you are looking for, please ask for assistance. We are here to help you!

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