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SPPA 6000-Research Methods

Search Tips

Because communication disorders involve physiological, psychological and social factors, the professional literature covering the field spans several academic disciplines and requires you to search several databases. Use the following search techniques and recommended databases to locate scholarly, research articles.

  • Use “AND” to narrow your search (in most cases you can do this by adding individual terms & concepts to separate search boxes)

Example: cleft palate AND children

This will retrieve only those citations that contain both the phrase cleft palate and the word children. If both are not in the record, you will not retrieve it.

  • Use “OR” to broaden your search. This will find articles with either one or both terms.

Example: dementia OR Alzheimer’s

This will retrieve all citations that reference either term. Helpful for clustering related & synonymous terms using parentheses, eg., (aphasia OR language disorder) and (stroke OR cerebral vascular accident)

  • Use truncation. The * is the truncation symbol. When you use it, the computer will search for other natural endings on the word. For example, if you search fluen*, you will retrieve fluency, fluent, fluently, etc.
  • Set limits. All of the following databases allow for different types of limit-setting, a technique that allows you “weed out” non-scholarly or other inappropriate material. Some limitations you can place:
    • Language (English, Spanish, etc.)
    • Peer-reviewed or Reference Available
    • Publication type (journal, book, conference proceeding, etc.)
    • Date of publication
  • Use correct terminology. When searching for research articles, check database subject headings/thesauri (most have them) to see how the database creators have categorized a subject.

Recommended Databases




Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews




Database Cheat Sheet/Finding Articles from ASHA Journals

Class Handout

How to Save Searches in EBSCO

APA Style

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

APA Tip Sheet

Research and Documentation Online (inludes sample APA paper)

Jiannan’s Contact Info


Phone: (510) 885-2973

Last Updated 11.05.13

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Jiannan Wang
LI 3115 510.885.2973

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