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Home Research Guides Psychology (PSYC) 250: Developmental Psychology

Psychology (PSYC) 250: Developmental Psychology

Move from a Topic to Searchable Concepts

When we search for a topic in library databases, we need to focus on identifying its basic concepts as well as alternative keywords.

Sample Topic: What mental health challenges do elderly Latino immigrants face?


Concept 1: Mental health
Concept 2: Elderly
Concept 3: Latino
Concept 4: Immigrants

Mental health -- Mental illness
Elderly -- Older adults, aged
Latino -- Latin American
Immigrants -- Refugees

Use the same strategy with your own topic to start finding
empirical and peer-reviewed articles on your topic.

Search for Empirical and Peer-Reviewed Articles

Search Commands

Most databases require precision in the way you create your searches.

Below are the most common commands used in databases with examples of how to use them.


Use the word AND (in capital letters) to narrow your search by combining search terms.

Example : elderly AND immigrants

Use “quotation marks” to tell a database that you want to search for a phrase instead of the individual search terms.

Example : "mental health"

With these basic commands, there are many possibilities to mix and match to get different results.

Example : Latino AND immigrants AND elderly AND "mental health"

Library Databases

The databases below were chosen because they are relevant to PSYC 250 and include empirical and peer-reviewed articles.

If we don't have full-text access to a source, please use Interlibrary Loan (tutorial link) to request a free copy of the PDF.


Select Empirical and Peer-Reviewed Articles

The information included in the boxes below can guide you through the evaluation process and help you identify if the article is empirical
and peer-reviewed.

Additionally, when searching in the databases above, you can limit your results to 'Peer-Reviewed' articles.


Empirical articles must report new data/findings.

A good first step to identify if an article is empirical is to read the Abstract or Summary:

  • Does the author mention terms like study, observation, analysis, data, participants, etc.?
  • Does the author discuss the methods used in their research?

You can also skim the headings used in the paper:

  • Is there a Methods or Methodology section?
  • Is there a Discussion or Results section?

Often, 'yes' answers to these questions mean you have identified an empirical article.

But if you do have questions please do not hesitate to contact me (Jylisa Doney) or your instructor (Darcy Corbitt-Hall)

Many empirical articles are also peer-reviewed.

This means that other authors or scholars in the specific field or discipline reviewed or commented on the article prior to its publication.

Peer-reviewed articles can add an extra layer of authority to your discussions and arguments.

Databases as well as the journals' websites can help you determine if empirical articles are peer-reviewed.

Get Help

Social Sciences Librarian
Main Library 118A