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PSY 381: Positive Psychology

This Course Guide is intended to serve as a complementary resource to the in-person library instruction class.


As with any research project, the first step is generally to select your topic. Reference materials (encyclopedias, dictionaries, bibliographies, etc. . .) can be a great way to get started. These resources offer overviews of thousands of topics and will help you launch into your search for the scholarly resources that you will need to use to support your research. On this page you will find some selections to get you started.

When brainstorming, it can also be helpful to browse popular, non-scholarly resources in order to understand the status of general discourse on your topic and explore diverse viewpoints while developing thesis statement that can be supported with scholarly resources.

Getting Started

  • Read your assignment carefully! 
    • Take note of important elements such as the due date, the format, the length, the type of materials you are expected to use, and any other specific requirements.
    • Break down the assignment into elements such as the following:
      • Who or what are you researching?
      • Are you arguing a specific point of view or analyzing a specific topic?
      • What do you know about the topic already?
  • Start with brainstorming and background research:
    • Explore the assigned topic using broad, informational resources such as encyclopedias and reference databases that will help you understand the context of the topic.
    • While you are exploring the topic, look for common terms, themes, and ideas.
    • Use the outline of the assignment and your background research to brainstorm topics and thesis statements.
  • Support your topic/thesis statement with high-quality resources that meet the requirements of your assignment:
    • Scholarly materials (also known as peer-reviewed materials) are often required for academic research projects. This is because these resources must be written by experts in the fields, published in reputable journals, reviewed by other experts, and must be based on quality work.

For more information on planning your research, visit the Writing Center, where professional and accomplished writing consultants will guide you through your writing project.

Credo Reference

Running a basic search in Credo Reference is similar to searching in Wikipedia. You can use general keywords and phrases in your search and Credo Reference will return results that include some or all of your keywords.

Credo reference landing page and basic search.


Clicking the "Advanced Search" button below the search box opens up additional options to control what kinds of results your search returns.

Credo Reference Advanced Search page.

Use the provided Advanced Search boxes to refine your search based on the prompts.

In addition, the Advanced Search box includes drop-down menus that will allow you to limit Subjects, Titles, Publication Dates, and Features by checking the appropriate box.

Credo Reference supplies a visual related topics map that can be a great way to explore your topic and see connections that can further your research. Click the links in the map to jump to articles on that topic and generate a new visual topic map.

Credo Reference search for "Octavia E. Butler" including visual topic map.

Click the Hugo Award and a new series of search results will load:

Credo Reference search with visual topic map for "Hugo Award".

Credo Reference is equipped with a Research Quick Tips tool for help with research, searching, and topic selection to help you make the most of the database. To access the Research Quick Tips area, click on the three-lined "hamburger" menu in the upper-left corner of the screen and choose "Research Quick Tips":

Credo Reference menu showing Research Quick Tips selection.

The Research Quick Tips menu has several helpful guides:

Research Quick Tips landing page.

Oxford Reference Premium

Running a basic search in Oxford Reference Premium is similar to searching in Wikipedia. You can use general keywords and phrases in your search and Britannica Academic will return results that include some or all of your keywords.

Oxford Reference Premium landing page.


On the search results page, Oxford Reference Premium offers a series of post-search filtering options on the left side of the page under the heading "Narrow Your Choices":


By default, Oxford Reference Premium shows all content in the results, which includes articles that are not available in full-text. Item availability is indicated to the right of the result with a green open lock Green open lock icon., the word Free in a green oval Free in a green oval icon., or a red closed lock Closed red lock icon..

To limit the results list to items that are available in full-text, check the "Unlocked" and "Free" boxes under the heading "By Availability" in the left side menu and click submit:



Oxford Reference Premium has a help page with additional tips for searching and making the most of the database. To access the help page, click "Help" at the bottom of any page in the database: