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Use this guide to find resources in industrial/organizational psychology, rehabilitation psychology, and clinical psychology, plus course-specific information.

Developing Search Terms

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).

Using Search History to Formulate Advanced Searches

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: 

PubMed Tips


  • Sign up for a free NCBI account. This will allow you to customize your search criteria, save searches and search history, and organize articles into folders.
  • PubMed's search algorithm uses something called Automatic Term Mapping (ATM), which automatically groups phrases and searches different fields for a thorough search. This is useful for simpler searches or when you don't need to document search strategy, but for literature search documentation, it's best to look at the Search Details box, modify the search as needed, and record that as your actual search method.
  • use Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) to help find targeted results. You can use MeSH terms and the corresponding subheadings to find targeted results:
    1. To find articles about the treatment of a specific condition using any drug, first search for the MeSH term and select the "drug therapy" subheading, then apply to your search. (Hint: you can also use this method to explore other treatment metholodologies listed as subheadings, such as "Rehabiliation" or "Prevention and Control."
    2. To find articles that used a specific drug to treat conditions, first find the drug in the MeSH database and select the "therapeutic use" subheading. 

PsycINFO Tips


  • Create an EBSCO account, which is not the same as your MyIIT login. It  allows you to save search history, set up search alerts, and organize your research.
  • Avoid using quotation marks when searching. By leaving them off, the database will automatically search for slight variations of your keywords, such as plural versions or alternate spellings. 

Google Scholar tips

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:

  • Search across disciplines all at once, no need to pick one subject area
  • easy to use
  • it's completely free for anyone to search, so you can use it after graduation (though this doesn't mean that you can actually access everything it finds). Note that PubMed is also free to search, but the same caveat applies: just because it's free to search doesn't mean that the articles retrieved will be free to read.

When using Google Scholar, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use the Library Links feature so that the full text links to articles that IIT has access to will be conveniently placed beside the entries. Set it up under the Library Links option on the Settings page by searching for "Illinois Institute of Technology," selecting the checkbox next to the name, and clicking Save: 
  • Use the Author Search page to find research created by specific researchers, and to Follow these researchers so you receive notifications for new material.
  • click on the quotation mark icon below entries to copy and paste citations, but note that there are often formatting errors.

Use a Citation Manager

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 ( for help in learning this tool. Also see the linked Zotero research guide for installation help and other tutorials.