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Social Dimensions of Health

This guide is based on Jessica Mussell's excellent Psych 499 LibGuide.

Develop effective searches

To determine what keywords to use when searching, write out your question on a piece of paper and then underline the words in your question that best express what it is you are looking for.   For example, if this is my research question:

Does pet therapy help improve quality of life in the elderly with dementia?

I would focus in on the bolded words:
Does pet therapy help improve quality of life in the elderly with dementia?

Then, I would construct my search as follows:
"pet therapy" AND "quality of life" AND elderly AND dementia

If I am not happy with my search results I could think of synonyms for my search terms, then try a new search.

Instead of pet therapy, I could also try:

"animal therapy" AND "quality of life" AND elderly AND dementia

"therapy dogs" AND "quality of life" AND elderly AND dementia

Similarly, if I am not happy with elderly AND dementia, I could try:

"pet therapy" AND "quality of life" AND senile dementia

So, I could do additional searches that are similar to my first search, and get more results for my research question.

As you look through your search results, pay particular attention to the words the authors are using as well as the subject headings some articles will provide, as these can give you ideas for keywords to try in future searches.

*Remember, you want to find good information on your topic, and in order to find good information, plan to spend time searching.

For more information on search strategies, see the following pages: