SCL1003 Exercise and Sport Psychology: Overview

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This page provides information on getting started on your assignment and keyword searching strategies.

About this guide

This guide provides a starting point for using resources in the VU Library.

What are keywords?

Key words are words in a question that tell you the approach you should take when answering an assignment question. 

Keywords can include:

Content Words      

  • Tell you what the topic area is.
  • Help you to focus your research and reading on the correct area.
  • Think about synonyms or similar words.    



Source: University of New South Wales 

Limiting Words 

  • Tell you what area(s) to focus on, eg. sedentary lifestyle
  • Define the topic area further, eg. sedentary lifestyle in adults.
  • Indicate aspects of the topic area you should narrowly concentrate on, eg. sedentary lifestyle in adults and obesity.



Task Words

  • Tell you what to do; the action(s) you need to perform, eg. compare, contrast, describe, summarise.

Keyword search strategies

Assessment task 

See SCL1003 Exercise & Sports Psychology on VU Collaborate for information about report requirements.

Once you have analysed your topic and done some preliminary reading you are ready to break down the topic into areas for research.The next step is to identify keywords that you can use to search for information on your topic. Use these words in Library Search to find relevant resources.

Select keywords from both the topic and your readings. Keywords can be single words or phrases. You will need to use a variety of keywords to ensure you cover all aspects of the topic and apply the following strategies to combine them

  • using the Boolean logic (AND OR & NOT), for example, exercise AND psychological development
  • think of possible synonyms and related words or phrases, for example, sedentary OR inactive
  • search exact phrases by enclosing the phrase in quotes, for example, "sedentary lifestyle"
  • find a term with variant spelling  by using a hash (#), for example, entering  behavio#r will find both behavior and behaviour
  • find a term with various endings by using as a truncation symbol represented by an asterisk (*), for example, inactiv* will retrieve inactive, inactivity and inactivities
  • group terms together by placing them in parentheses, for example, (exercise psychology)

Keyword searching examples:

sedentary behavio#r OR sedentary lifestyle

inactivity AND health risks

inactiv* lifestyle AND obesity

"sedentary lifestyle" AND cardiovascular diseases

sedentary behavio#r (obesity OR overweight)

(exercise psychology) NOT (sports psychology)

(exercise OR fitness) professional

burnout AND overtraining 

exercise AND psychological well-being

exercise motivation

View the videos in this guide to learn how to search for books, e-books and journal articles available at  Victoria University Library.

Keyword search strategies video

Watch the following video to learn some of the search strategies that you can apply when conducting a search.

Search the library

Search the library

Non-VU access

VU Search Kit

The ‘VU Search Planner’ provides guidance in search planning, using database features (wildcards, truncation etc.) to find resources, and then platform-specific advice on saving searches. Download and use the guides. 

Download this 'Planning your Search' document and use it to develop a search as you look for library resources.

Learn how to use enhance your database searching with these search tips using truncation, wildcard, connectors, phrases and proximity database features. 

Discover how to save your search results on the major VU database journal article platforms.

Learning activity

Activity: identifying keywords from assessment topics and searching in academic journal databases

Step 1: Select a topic from the list provided under Assessment 1 in VU Collaborate (for example - overuse injuries in exercise/sports settings or personal meaning of exercise/sport). Think of some of the Keyword(s) or phrase/s.

Step 2 - Select a database (such as SportDiscus or PsycInfo or ScienceDirect) and perform a search using the keywords identified.

Step 3 - Share your responses below; double-click anywhere on the padlet to post

  • write 1 or 2 Keyword(s) or phrase/s that each group has used to search for articles
  • write the name of the database 
  • title of the article and
  • provide a link to the article

Made with Padlet

APA Referencing

Refer to the APA referencing guide to learn how to create a reference list and insert in-text references.

Transcript for Keyword search strategies Video

Before you start researching on a topic…it is vital that you identify the keywords and apply some of the search techniques to retrieve the best results!

So what are keywords?

Keywords are search terms that represent main ideas and concepts in an assignment question or topic.

Library database looks for keywords anywhere in the record such as title, abstract, keywords and subject headings.

The first step is to identify keywords or ideas from the assignment question or topic.

For instance, if your assignment topic is ‘What effects do physical activities have on the overall health of women?’

Your keywords or concepts  are

Physical activity                 Health                                                   Women

Now Step 2 is to think of some of the synonyms or alternative words or related words.

The third step is to use the search tipsor strategies to make your search more efficient!

Such as using Truncation, Wildcard and Boolean operators

The Truncation symbol represented by an asterisk finds a term with various endings in a library search or the databases.

A Wildcard symbol represented by the hash # allows you to find words with alternate spellings. For instance, if you want to find terms containing both the British spelling and the American spelling.

Combine keywords in a search using the Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT

Use of the operators AND and NOT will narrow a search while the OR operator will broaden it!

If you are not getting the right kind of results change your keywords or refinements to broaden out or further narrow the results.

For further information, you can contact us online or talk to a library staff member if on campus.

End of video