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Child and Adolescent Development

A research guide for the department of CADV.

Brainstorming Search Terms

Brainstorming search terms can help you modify your search strategy and paper topic. Here are the steps:

1. Write down your topic and identify the key (or most important) terms. 

Example: How can cognitive behavioral therapy help adolescents with anxiety disorders?

2. For each term, write down synonyms, related ideas, broader terms, and narrower terms. For example:

Cognitive behavioral therapy > CBT, psychotherapy, behavioral therapy

Adolescents > youth, teenagers, young adults, high school students

Anxiety disorders > social anxiety, mental illness, situational anxiety

3. Try out different combinations of the key terms, adjusting as needed. If you have too many search results, try using more specific terms ("social anxiety" instead of "anxiety disorders"). If you have too few results, use broader search terms, or try searching for some of the related terms that you identified above.

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are words (or, and, not) used to connect search terms to expand or narrow a search within a database to locate relevant information.

It is helpful to diagram the effects of these operators:

women or females

women or females

Or retrieves records that contain anyof the search terms. It expands the search. Therefore, use "or" in between terms that have the same meaning (synonyms) or equal value to the search.

women and media

women and media

And retrieves records that contain all of the search terms. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "and" in between terms that are required to make the search specific.

image not weight

Not eliminates records that contain a search term. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "not" in front of a term to ensure that the search will not include that term. Warning: Some databases use "and not" instead of "not." Check the database help screen.


How to Evaluate Library Resources?

Books and database articles should be evaluated to determine their credibility and relevance to your topic before selecting them for a research assignment. Use the CRAAP test below to help you evaluate whether a source is right for your research. 

Use this CRAAP test worksheet to evaluate your sources. 


  • What is the publication date of the book or database article?
  • How up-to-date are the citations in the bibliography?
  • How current does the information need to be for your topic or your assignment?  


  • Does the information relate directly to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the audience for the publication (scholarly or general)?
  • Is the information primary or secondary in nature?
  • Does it provide general background information or in-depth information on a specific topic? Which do you need?


Who created the information?

  • What are the qualifications of the author, publisher, or organization responsible for the content of the resource?
  • What are the author's education and/or experience?
  • Look for the author's biography or information about the publisher or responsible organization  either within the publication or use the sources below to find out more about authors, publishers, and organizations:


  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Can you verify the information in another source?
  • How extensive is the bibliography or list of cited references? Can you use these references to find more information on your topic?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?


  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it meant to inform you, sell you something or persuade you?
  • Does it present a fair and balanced view of an issue?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religous, or personal biases?
  • Are opinions or propaganda easy to recognize?
  • Are there advertisements that suggest the information might be biased toward selling a product rather than providing objective information?
  • biased toward selling a product rather than providing objective information?

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