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PSYCHOLOGY: Research Process

Search Strategies

1. Generate a set of search terms related to your topic.  These will be the keywords with which you begin searching.

Higher education                      motivation          students        
post-secondary education       behavior             undergraduates                      
tertiary education                     intention             first year students 
colleges                                       psychology         first generation students
universities                                 experiences   

2. Combine your search terms using various strategies. 

Employ the AND operator to narrow your search to results that mention both keywords: first generation students AND experiences will capture items that discuss both concepts.

Use the OR operator to broaden your search by using variants or synonyms of the same keyword: Higher education OR universities

The asterisk (*) is a wildcard symbol that is used to catch various endings of a word: motiv* captures items with keywords that begin with motiv--  (motive, motivate, motivation, etc.).  

Use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase: "first year students"

The Research Process: A Map

Research is not a linear process. Research requires repetition of the same processes--utilizing background information, developing a research question, collecting evidence--in order to eventually define and develop a research question that is significant and manageable.  

(Process chart courtesy of A.Carr, 2011)

From Topic to Research Questions


Learn more about narrowing a topic and developing a research question.