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Psychology: Start Your Assignment

This library guide will help you plan your research assignment and effectively find and use resources including article databases such as PsycINFO.

How to Start Your Research Assignment

What do you have to do to successfully complete this assignment? How long will each step take you?

Make a list of the tasks you need to accomplish. Set a schedule to finish each task. Put the schedule into your calendar.

Is your topic the right size? Most students choose a topic that is too large. Doing some presearch on your topic can help you get the big picture and understand what narrower topics are available.

Reference resources help you get started on a new topic, answer quick questions, and/or point you to further resources. Examples of reference resources include:
Almanacs - Atlases - Dictionaries - Encyclopedias - Handbooks - Indexes - Thesauri

Wikipedia is a crowd-sourced encyclopedia. Credo Reference is a collection of all of the above.

What questions will you need to answer to write about your topic? What information will you need to find to support your argument?

Make a list to help guide your research.


It's true - keywords are the key to success when it comes to research. Generating a list of keywords before you start searching - and adding to the list as you go - will make you an efficient, effective searcher. If you can't find what your looking for, it's probably due to bad keywords. 

  1. Write down your topic.
  2. Identify which of the words you've written can be used as keywords. Hint: pick only ones with meaning directly connected to your topic. Ex. Are safe-injection sites good for Vancouver
  3. Brainstorm synonyms, broader & narrower and related words. Ex. safe-injection sites = Insite, needle exchanges; Vancouver = Lower Mainland, Canada, BC, British Columbia, Fraser Health


What kind of resources are you able to use for this assignment?  Where can you find these kinds of resources?

  • academic vs popular
  • primary vs secondary
  • media 
  • reports and data

Browse the Shelves

General materials in Psychology are shelved together in the BF section of the Library of Congress classification system. To assist you in browsing the library collection, the following provides a further breakdown:

BF 173-175 Psychoanalysis
Psychological Tests and Testing
180-205 Experimental Psychology
207-209 Psychotropic Drugs
231-299 Sensation, Aesthiology
309-499 Consciousness, Cognition, Perception, Intuition
501-504.3 Motivation
511-593 Emotion, Feeling, Affection
608-635 Will, Choice, Volition
636-637 Applied Psychology
660-685 Comparative Psychology
698-698.9 Personality
699-711 Genetic Psychology
712-724.85 Developmental Psychology
721-723 Child Psychology
HQ Family, Marriage, Women
HV Social Service, Welfare, Criminology
RC 321-571 Neurology and Psychiatry, Neuropsychiatry

Where do I begin my research? With a reference resource!

Credo Reference has over 500 items in their virtual reference resource collection, such as encyclopedias, dictionaries & almanacs.


Print Reference Resources

Psychology Tutorials on YouTube

Check out the Psych Research Skills Level 1 and Level 2 playlists on the CapU Library channel for easy-to-follow tutorials covering the basics of Psychology research and beyond.

Want assignment ideas? Try Psychology News!

A free collection of articles about psychology and psychologists published in The New York Times.

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