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INCO 590 & INCO 610 (UNH Durham)

Introduction to research resources for students

Search Strategies

Use 2 or 3 significant words or terms from your research topic

Develop synonyms and alternative terms

  • Example: teens OR youth OR adolescents

 Try a broader concept if a specific term doesn't retrieve enough results

  •  instead of New Hampshire, try New England or northeast

Try a more specific aspect or element if you get too many results with a very broad concept

  • instead of sports, search a specific sport or category such as baseball or soccer

Use the connector AND to retrieve records with all the keywords you list to focus and narrow your results

  • climate change AND maple syrup

Use the connector OR indicate that any one of the terms listed needs to be in the results shown; this usually increases the number of relevant results

  • climate change OR global warming

Use quotation marks to indicate a phrase

  • "flow theory"

Use an asterisk * to pick up words with the same stem but different endings

  • therap* returns therapy, therapeutic, therapists

Look for new words or terms to search when reviewing your results or reading the full-text article

  • you may find them listed as keywords, in subject fields, within the abstract or summary, or within the article itself

Some specialized databases (including PubMed, PsycINFO, and PsycArticles) allow you to limit your search to:

  • educational level
  • age
  • population group
  • research methodology
  • language

Limiter options vary by database:

  • check the advanced search screen
  • view the limiters to the left or right on the search results page.


Make connections through the research conversation 

  • Look at the reference list at the end of a relevant scholarly article you found. This may lead you to earlier articles related to your topic. 
  • Use Web of Science or Google Scholar to follow citations from published articles to identify newer related articles across many disciplinary fields in the sciences, social sciences, and arts & humanities.
  • Check "Times Cited" links, if available, in databases such as PsycINFO or Biological Abstracts to identify some newer articles citing the article in the database record. This may lead to related relevant articles.


Searching by the subjects assigned to articles helps

  • identify articles in which the subject is a main focus and not just not just a passing reference
  • pull together results on same concept even if author uses different terms in title or abstract
    • the subject "capital punishment" will retrieve articles using the term "death penalty" as well as those using "capital punishment"
  • when a keyword may have multiple meanings or a more general meaning
    • the subject "flow (conscious state)" will get more relevant results than just searching the keyword "flow"

Look at the subject terms in records for articles that fit your topic closely and search those subjects for more articles

Use the thesaurus available in some databases to see if your keywords are subjects or if alternative terms are used

  • PsycINFO uses "Military Families" as a subject but not "Military Wives"

What else have the author(s) published on this topic? Search their names in the relevant database or look for their CV (curriculum vita) online.

Library Search Box

Databases to Consider

Depending on your specific topic, one of these specialized databases may be helpful. For more online resources, check out the complete Database List.

Google Scholar

Keyword searching across citations, abstracts and full text of articles (even if the full text isn't available to you).


  • identify relevant articles, especially if your search is pretty specific.
  • useful for exploratory purposes or when you're "covering all the bases"


  • hard to organize or sort in useful ways
  • unable to search by subject or limit by anything other than time

Enhance efficiency by adjusting these Google Scholar settings so that

  • Library Links shows library access links to UNH (so you have quicker access to full text that UNH is subscribing to)