Developing search terms starts with developing a research question. There are many ways to develop a research question, and your assignment may dictate which format to use, but the PICO framework is commonly used in the health field.
An example research question using the PICO criteria:
Does group therapy [Intervention] lower the number of panic attacks per year [Outcome] when compared to drug therapy [Comparison/Control] for teenagers diagnosed with panic disorders [Population]?
After you establish a question, you can begin developing keywords for the four PICO criteria (or if you're not using PICO, the main themes of the question).
When conducting a comprehensive literature review, it's very important to use a systematic approach. This is especially important when submitting an article for publication, because you're often required to submit the search strategy you used. Instead of combining words/phrases into one search on the home page of the database, it's a good idea to use your Search History instead. This will help you be sure that your search terms are being combined properly and in the right order. See the links below for more background:
In general, PsycINFO and PubMed are better than Google Scholar when conducting literature searches, because the search fields and algorithms are much more robust. PsycINFO and PubMed also employ actual human indexers that review and categorize articles, whereas Google Scholar relies on keyword searching alone, so it's easier to get more complete and relevant results in PsycINFO or PubMed.
However, Google Scholar has other pros:
When using Google Scholar, keep these tips in mind:
Using a citation manager requires a learning and adjustment period, but has a great payoff. Invest a bit of time to learn how to use one and you will benefit for the rest of your educational/professional career! Citation managers help you capture and organize references that you've found online, including the full text if available, and then help you to draft in-text citations and bibliographies. There are several available, but the library recommends Zotero if you aren't yet using a citation manager, because it is free, open-source, and very easy to use.
Contact the Psychology liaison, Andrea Jakubas (email@example.com) for help in learning this tool. Also see the linked Zotero research guide for installation help and other tutorials.