Where To Look
The best way to find articles and research studies to use in your review of the literature assignment is by searching for them in the databases listed to the right. ERIC and Education Journals are the premier resources for education research, and thus are the best starting points for this assignment. PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, and SocINDEX are also good places to look.
1. Be prepared to try alternative search terms
If you're not able to locate the articles you need with one search term, try another! Many education concepts go by more than one name: instead of "elementary school," for instance, you could also say "grammar school," "K-6," or "primary school." If you can't find what you're looking for, ask yourself what other words an author might use to describe your topic. Consider using a more specific term ("geometry" instead of "mathematics") if you find too many results, and try using a broader term ("special needs" instead of "gifted" or "talented") if your search retrieves too few. The important thing is not to give up if you aren't successful right away!
2. Use the words AND and OR to search for more than one term at a time
Most databases will allow you to search for more than one term at a time by connecting them with the word AND (to search for both term A and term B) or the word OR (to search for either term A or term B) in all capital letters. This would be especially useful if your subject was something like lifespan development. If you search PsycARTICLES for articles on "lifespan development" you will get 14 results:
The problem is that some authors treat lifespan as two words! If you search for "life span development," you'll get 42 completely different results:
Searching for "lifespan development" OR "life span development" will retrieve all 56:
Similarly, if you were interested in both middle school students and high school students, you could search for articles that discuss both populations by searching for "middle school students" AND "high school students":
3. Look closely at the abstract
When you find an article that looks good, look closely at the abstract (the brief summary that appears at the top of most scholarly articles). Often times this will help you identify keywords that you can use to find additional articles on your topic. You can also find keywords in the text of your article, and in the "Descriptors" or "Subject Terms" section of the item record:
4. Look at the references list
Most of the articles you find will end with a "References" or "Works Cited" section that lists the articles and the books that the author used to do their research. The references section of a good article is often the best place to look for additional articles that you can use to continue your own research! If you find an article that looks like it might be helpful, you can use the library's Find Journal by Title tool to track it down.
5. Ask a Librarian
Last but certainly not least, if you encounter any difficulties or if you have a question, please feel free to ask a librarian for help--that's what we're here for!
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