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Psychology Guide: Search skills

This Guide has been created to help Psychology students find useful Library resources

6 steps to search success!

Where do I search? Benefits of various search tools.

If you have been asked to find academic, credible or peer reviewed information Library Search is a great place to start.


  • one place to find books, ebooks, journal articles, newspaper articles, theses, streaming video and much more
  • results can be filtered many ways - chose peer reviewed articles, full text online, narrow down by date range
  • advanced search allows easy combining of several search terms

Before doing anything uni related login to the portal - This makes it easier to access all your uni related tools with one sign in.

Books and eBooks are good academic sources of information. They give a thorough overview of a topic, are usually well researched and have undergone a stringent publication and editorial process. This does mean they can take a long time to be published.

If you know the EXACT title of the book, enclose it in quotation marks, e.g. "The road to social work and human service practice"

Use quotation marks around an EXACT phrase e.g. "mental health"

If you are looking for books on a topic use keywords, e.g. "mental health" AND "social work"

Find a physical book  Find an eBook?  

Library Search is a simple way to search for information resources, including journal articles. But sometimes you will need to use the additional, discipline-specific features provided by specialist databases to find the information that you need for your assignments.

  • Not all of the resources in specialist databases can be found using library search.

Subject-specific databases are ideal for searching the journal literature because they are tailored to a particular discipline, and therefore provide the ability to narrow your search in ways that wouldn't be possible in a general database or search tool like Library Search. They vary from each other on subject area, coverage, content types, geographical location, etc - so consider which database/s will be most likely to contain the kind of information you're looking for.

Sometimes a lecturer wants students to read a journal article that CDU Library doesn't have, or read a chapter of a book only available in print. It will be digitised and put into the Reading List for your unit, accessible via Learnline for students to read. If you can't find an article or book chapter in Library Search access Reading List either via your Learnline unit or the Reading List tile in your student/staff portal.


Web Search Engines, like Google or DuckDuckGo can be used to find an overview of your topic, background information, keywords, similar terms or concepts, instructional videos and so much more, such as government and industry resources. Searching by keywords in Google will usually give a  huge number of results. 

Hints for searching in Google:

  1. try out Google advanced - add a site or domain, opt for search terms to appear "in the title of the page"
  2. use "..." around phrases
  3. if you want Australian statistics search the ABS site, or try adding after your search terms
  4. if you want something from an Australian Government site try adding after your search terms
  5. If you want something from an educational institution try adding after your search terms
  6. if you want a published report try adding filetype:pdf after your search terms

For more watch some videos on "Googling like a pro" or "search tips" in Google



Google Scholar can be a handy tool to use to find additional information such as: scholarly literature, some of which can be found in the library collection and some freely available; conference papers or theses.   

This tool will not search across the book and eBook collections at the library and may not give you full-text access to every journal article. You also cannot refine results by peer reviewed sources and may show articles that are published in predatory journals which have poor peer review and editing processes. If you're unsure if an article you find in scholar is from a peer reviewed journal check in Ulrich's Periodicals Directory or the Directory of Open Access Journals or Publons. 

On campus? - links will automatically show "full text @CDU" for CDU-subscribed articles. Open link in new tab.

Off campus - you need to change your settings so that Find it @ CDU links automatically appear within Google Scholar in your search results:

1. Click the three horizontal lines (top left) then go to Settings (the cog at the bottom of the list)

2. Click Library links

3. Type in Charles Darwin University and click the search button

4. Tick Charles Darwin University - Find it @ CDU

5. Click Save

To retain these settings, you must turn on cookies in your browser settings

If you send your citations to EndNote, under Bibliography Manager, select EndNote

Never cite or reference Wikipedia in an academic paper. However it can be a good place to start your search:

  • It's a good place to do background reading
  • It can help you discover further keywords to use for searching
  • You can find cited articles

Watch this video to learn the pros and cons of using Wikipedia.

You will need to evaluate the sources you find - are they suitable to use (and reference) in academic assignments?

Use these evaluation criteria to assess online resources:

Currency - when was the work published, is id out of date for the topic?
Relevance - is it detailed analysis, what is the readership level
Authority - who are the authors and their credentials- is it peer reviewed?
Accuracy - can you verity the source, are there other sources cited in the references?
Purpose - is there bias in the work, is there are particular perspective?

3 important search tips

SAGE Research Methods Online

Sage Research Methods Online is a research methods tool created to help researchers, faculty and students with their research projects. This site links over 100,000 pages of SAGE's renowned book, journal and reference content. Researchers can explore methods concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their research, and write up their findings.

You can access Sage Methods Online through the library's databases.


Charles Darwin University acknowledges the traditional custodians across the lands on which we live and work, and we pay our respects to Elders both past and present.
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