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Education - Teacher Well-Being

Practical and scholarly resources on teacher well-being.

Basic Search Tips

The following search tips work with most search interfaces, including Google Scholar, the University of Calgary Library main search box, and the various specialized databases.


Breaking Searches into Concepts and using Synonyms

When starting to develop your search strategy, think about your research question and the main or key concepts contained within it. Those concepts will help you develop your search terms, which you can then combine using Boolean Operators (see below). Once you have your main concepts mapped out, think of possible synonyms for those concepts as those will help you locate relevant resources that are not discovered using your main search terms.

Example Research Question: “How does the positive psychology movement contribute to teacher well-being?”

There are 3 main concepts in this question: positive psychology, teacher, & well-being, but these key concepts will generate several useful search terms.

Key Concept

positive psychology



Synonym 1

positive emotions



Synonym 2




Synonym 3



mental health

Synonym 4









The other thing to keep in mind when conducting your searches (especially in the specialized databases) is being mindful of spelling variants. For example, well-being, wellbeing, and well being may all yield slightly different results (one strategy is to combine all variants with an OR operator).


Using Boolean Operators

Combining your searches with AND, OR, NOT can help you narrow, broaden, or customize your searches.

Combining search terms with AND narrows the search to resources containing both search terms:

Combining your searches with OR expands the search to resources containing either term or both terms:

Utilize the NOT operator to eliminate an unwanted term from your searches:



Using truncation can be a real time saver since it eliminates the need for searching for all the different variants of a word. The most common symbol for truncation is the asterisk *, but some databases use other symbols, so it’s important to check the database help section (another common truncation symbol is #).

Placing a truncation symbol at the end of a root word will generate all the possible variants of the term during your search.

For example: educat* will generate education, educate, educates, educated, educational, etc.


Searching for Phrases

When searching for phrases rather than single words (e.g. "positive psychology" or "mental health"), placing the phrase in quotations " " will ensure that all terms in your search are adjacent to one another in your search results rather than being scattered through the resource. For example, searching for positive psychology without the quotation marks around the phrase will result in the retrieval of articles on positive psychology as well as articles that contain the search terms independently of one another, yielding articles that are irrelevant to your search (e.g. books and papers on positive chargesabnormal psychology, etc). 


The following are several helpful guides for researchers using Google Scholar:

A Scholar’s Guide to Google (Harvard University)

Google Scholar: 13 Search Tips (Wageningen University)

Search Tips for Google and Google Scholar (Simon Fraser University)

Google Scholar Search Tips (Google)

Subject Specific Databases

As much of the well-being literature is grounded in the positive psychology movement, both education and psychology databases are good places to start your searches. The following are your best bets:

ERIC (which is an EBSCO database)

Academic Search Complete (which is an EBSCO database)

PsycInfo (which is an OVID database)

You can access these databases via the University of Calgary Library website.


The following resources will help you with advanced database searches:

Tips for EBSCO Databases:

ERIC: ProQuest Platform Search Tips

EBSCOhost Searching Tips


Tips for OVID Databases:

OVID: Quick Reference Guide

OVID: Advanced Search Techniques

Librarian Help!

If you would like a librarian to help you at any stage of the research process (selecting keywords, developing search queries, selecting databases, choosing best sources, etc.), you can contact me:

Bart Lenart | | Phone: 403-220-8358

Or VisitDoucette Library, Education Block 370, University of Calgary

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