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Psychology Resources

A guide to psychology resources in the Mesa College Library and the San Diego area.

How Do I Search?

Woman in a mazeStep One:

Take a look at the assignment. What information are you going to need?  Think about the elements that you have to discuss.

Step Two:

Conduct background research, first to get an idea of how your topic is discussed in the literature, and second, to get an idea of how you are going to focus your topic and your paper, which will make the writing process easier.

In this background research, make note of any other terms that you see that related, this includes synonyms, medical and technical terms, and historical names.   

Step Three:

Think about what you found in the first steps and develop keywords for each aspect of your topic. Think of broader and narrower terms, synonyms, historical terms, and possible technical or medical terminology.  

Step Four:

Conduct some searches using keywords.  When searching, don't just look for results that work, but also make note of what you are seeing and what you are not seeing. This will help you modify your search. Try different combinations of your keywords. If you need help along the way make sure you contact your friendly librarian.  They are experts at locating information and love to help. 

Step Five:

Select your sources and make sure you know how to cite them in APA.

Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

Search Tips

  • Be flexible with your topic and your approach to research.  

  • Make note of any synonyms, historical terminology, and technical or medical terminology used and try searching with those as well. Computers are literal, so a search for anxiety disorders will not get you results that discuss obsessive-compulsive disorder if it does not use the word anxiety in that resource. This is why it is good to think of related terms and try those as well. You will get a different set of results with the phrase "bipolar disorder" than you will with the phrase manic depression, both sets of results could be useful. 

  • When researching a theorists or a theory use the names to search 

Here are just a few examples of related terms to demonstrate how thinking of related words will help you search:

Anxiety disorder 

obsessive compulsive disorder 

posttraumatic stress disorder

panic disorder

neurological disorder 

Alzhiemer's Disease

Korsakoff syndrome


​Development theory

Erik Erikson

​psychosocial development 


Personality theories 

 gender schema theory


psychosexual development 


  • Try using broader terms if you are not finding enough results, or narrower terms if you are not seeing any results that focus on the aspect you want to discuss.

  • Use quotation marks around multi-word names will get you better results. This will tell the search engine to look for those words together and in that order, otherwise it will look for each word individually and you will get many unrelated results. Examples:  "postpartum depression" "obsessive compulsive disorder" "cognitive development theory"  "operant conditioning". 

Search Tutorials

Keyword tutorial                   Google tutorial start page