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EDCE 570-002

What are the most important concepts in your research question?  What are different terms for each concept?



intervention, intervening

peer, peers





teen, teens, teenagers

adolescents, adolescence

middle school


Construct a search. Keep track, you'll probably try many different combinations



terms must be present, narrows results


any of the terms may be present, broadens results


wildcard looks for different endings

teen*     finds teen, teens, teenage, teenagers

adolescen*    finds adolescence, adolescents

Help with Search Terms
1.  Do a search and pay attention to how the results were tagged with subject words.  Jot down other descriptive terms from article titles and abstracts.

2.  A really good thesaurus like the ones ERIC and PsycINFO have can help you find related, narrower and broader terms.  Along with basic searching tips, both of these short handouts with video links show you how to take advantage of the thesaurus.

Comparing Find It & Subject Databases

Find It @ USC Libraries Subject Specific Databases  
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Find It gathers metadata (all the info that describes something) from a LOT of sources--publishers, database creators, library catalogs, etc.  The same thing might not be described the same way.  

Because it is so wide-ranging and diverse, to get the most out of Find It try a lot of different searches using a variety of keywords.

A database like ERIC, Education Source, PsycINFO, PubMed or SPORTDiscus concentrates on the literature of a discipline.  Databases add value by assigning consistent descriptors/subject terms.

Because a specialized database represents a smaller universe, a big part of searching effectively is making sure you are including terms the database uses.  Look and see if your database has a thesaurus.


Advanced Search in Find It @ USC Libraries

Use Advanced Search to enter more complex searches with OR for synonyms on the same line.  Be sure to capitalize OR, otherwise the same search techniques you use in other databases (* for a wildcard and "quotes around phrases") apply.


Tips for other databases

Dissertations and Theses Global / Dissertations & Theses @ University of South Carolina

Control the number of results and relevancy by changing where your terms are searched.  Anywhere searches the entire dissertation if there's a PDF.  Anywhere except full text searches the title, abstract, subjects


Set your Library Links in Google Scholar.  Connect to content we've paid for.



Scroll down the search page to find limits, including:Age Group (Childhood to Very Old), Population Group (Human, Animal, Male, Transgender, Female, Inpatient, Outpatient), Methodology.


How Do I...?