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Counseling and Family Therapy

Tips for Effective Searching

Searching in Psychology

Where you search in psychology depends on your topic.  Look at Recommended Resources for recommended places to start.

Two recommended search strategies, using the APA thesaurus and citation mining.

  • When using APA PsycInfo, the database published by the APA, use the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms to make your searches more precise and to ensure you use the vocabulary of the discipline.  A thesaurus applies standardized subject terms for each entry.  For example, if you are searching for social media, use the index term social media rather than having to think of all the possible terms you might find like Facebook, Twitter, etc. 

  • As with any topic in psychology, don't forget to perform citation mining, allowing you to trace the research over time.  Using the Web of Science features make this easy to do but you can also use the "cited by" link in Google Scholar.  

Scroll down on this page to find additional information about each of these search strategies.

Using PsycINFO Thesaurus

The APA Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms is available in the PsycINFO database.  Using a thesaurus allows you to create more precise searches and helps ensure that the results are on your topic not just contain key words. It also helps you search using the language of the discipline. 

Citation Mining

Citation mining or searching is important because it allows you to trace research on a topic over time.  It allows you to enter into the "scholarly conversation" about a topic.   In the sciences and social sciences, science builds on the science of others.  

  • Use the references in the back of an article to look at research that informs the research of an article in-hand.
  • Use a citation database such as the Web of Science or the "cited by" link in Google Scholar to find research that was informed by the research of an article in-hand.


In Web of Science:

  1. use the times cited  to trace research forward.  Who has used this research to build their own research?
  2. look at the cited references to trace research backwards.  What research did this researcher think was important?
  3. select related records to find related research based on shared citations.  Who is doing similar research?

How do I...

How do I find the full text of an article if I have a reference/citation?

      Use the Citation Search. (Link found on the "Articles" tab on the Library home page.)

      You can also set up Google Scholar to help you find full text. 

  1. Go to
  2. Click on "Library Links" in the left navigation.
  3. Search for "Buswell."
  4. Select the check box next to "Wheaton College - Buswell Library..."
  5. Click "Save."
  6. You should now see a "Find it @ Wheaton" link.  If the link does not appear to the right or below an entry, click the " >> " below the entry; the link will appear.

If we do not have access to the full text you will be given the opportunity to place an ILLiad request.

How do I find out if the library has access to a journal?

      Search using Find a Journal (Links found on the "Articles" tab on the Library home page.)

How do I get a book that is not owned by Buswell?

      You can request a book through i-Share or ILLiad from the detail results screen when you search from the library home page

  • i-Share requests are for books only.  Requests go directly to consortia member libraries.  This is typically faster than an ILLiad request. 
    • You do not need to create an account.  Use your network login and password when prompted.
  • ILLiad is the name for Buswell's interlibrary loan.  You can request books and articles. 
    • You will be prompted to enter some information (e.g. CPO address) the first time you make a request. 
    • Use your campus computer network account and password (the same as you use to log in to MyWheaton.)

How do I get a journal article that I cannot access through Buswell?

      Articles can be requested through ILLiad. 

  • Use the "Find it!" button found in most databases.  If Buswell Library does not have access to full text, place an ILLiad request.
    • You will be prompted to set up an account the first time you make a request. 
    • Articles are delivered electronically, you will get an email when a request is available.