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MFT 510: Introduction to Marriage and Family Therapy

Research Tips

Subject Search (Thesaurus)

Why use this search? 

  1. more precise: uses only the terms already inside the database vocabulary; useful to run your own words against it. Terminology in sciences and technology changes often. New terms replace the ones used for years. Check Thesaurus to find out if the term you are going to use for searching is still valid. Database index contains a more accurate term that is used in the sources in this database. Makes your search more productive.  

  1. gives you ideas: if you have only a broad idea of a topic, Thesaurus will help narrow it down by suggesting relevant and narrower terms. 

  1. retrieves fewer results: searches only in one section of the article record: “subjects”.

Example of a search statement:  "attachment disorders in neglected children". 


Tip: library databases do not search for entire sentences, but for separate words and phrases.  


Keyword Search (Advanced Mode)

Why use this search vs. Basic search?

1. more precise 

2. offers more limiters to select before you search. For example, Basic Search does not have “Methodology” limiter



-  linked full text

-  date range (e.g., last 5 years)

-  publication type (e.g., peer-reviewed scholarly articles only)

-  methodology (e.g., empirical study)

-  age group

Select your limiters before you start searching, it will save you lots of time!


Citation Chaining

Resources cited in the article - Resources that cite the article

Once you find a good resource, such as an article relevant to your topic, a good strategy is to mine its list of references for additional useful resources. This process is called “backward chaining”. You can also do “forward chaining” to identify those who have cited the article you found. This way you search backwards and forwards in time for related resources. One resource links you to another, which links you to another, and so on to create a chain of relevant literature.

Citation chaining is especially useful for writing a literature review since it helps you follow chains of related sources.

Tip: articles published in the last few years might be too recent to have any other articles citing them.