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This is a guide to help students find quality sources when researching the mind and human behavior.

Choosing a Topic

An excellent starting point for browsing psychological research topics is the Mental Health and Behavior list from MedlinePlus.

Most of these topics are very broad. You may wish to narrow them by reflecting on aspects of treatment or how these topics reflect particular populations. Here are some examples:

  • Treatments for bipolar disorder
  • Self-harm among African Americans
  • Panic disorder among veterans


What is your research topic? Once you have made a decision, you should generate keywords. Keywords are search terms that you use when searching for information about your topic. The above video explains how you can write keywords. Watch it, then continue reading this section.

Let's pose an example: you're writing about treatments for bipolar disorder. Your keywords might include:

  • bipolar disorder and psychotherapy
  • bipolar disorder and medication
  • bipolar disorder and alternative medicine

When writing keywords or even starting sociological or anthropological research, it can be very helpful to get some background information first. A database like CREDO Reference is perfect for this task. Read an article or two about your topic so that  you become more familiar with it. This will make it easier to select keywords and to know if information sources that you find are actually relevant.

Articles from Databases

Now that you have keywords, it's time to search the databases. Have you used the databases before? If you don't have recent experience with our library's databases, then I suggest watching this introductory video.

The video embedded above shows you how to search Academic Search Complete, which is one of the four databases ideal for psychological research. All three of these databases are structured the same way, so the tutorial video applies to all of them.

Remember to limit your search results to scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals if your professor has told you to use only those types of sources.


We have two excellent ebook databases. These let you read full-text books online. The interfaces can be confusing, so I have included a tutorial video for each one.

The video above shows you how to search the ebook database titled EBSCO eBook Collection.

The video above shows you how to search the database ProQuest EBook Central.

Recommended Websites

  • American Psychological Associationa scientific and professional organization that represents psychologists in the United States. Click on the "Topics" tab for information and news about mental health and psychological issues.
  • American Psychiatric Associationa professional association that represents psychiatrists in the United States. Click on "Patients & Families" in the horizontal bar for information about various disorders.
  • National Institute of Mental Healththe NIH institute concerned with mental health and related issues. Much of the site has information about various diagnoses, disorders, and problems.
  • Association for Psychological Science - a professional organization for psychological study. The site includes suggested topics for student research.


APA Documentation

This is our video that introduces APA documentation. I urge you to watch the entire video carefully before starting to write your paper or annotated bibliography. It is much easier to cite correctly as you go along, rather than try to fix your documentation after you have written your paper. This is our complete APA guide, which goes into more detail about citing sources and formatting correctly.

It includes our sample paper. When you're writing a paper, you can model the formatting of your paper after this one. If you are unsure how to set up the formatting in Microsoft Word so that it fits the requirements for APA formatting, you could instead download this blank Word document that has the formatting already set up for you.

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