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Education Research for Graduate Students: Searching Strategies for Databases

Search Tips & Strategies

The Search Strategies box reviews a variety of search strategies. These search strategies can be used in almost all databases.

On the right, the Accessing Articles box describes how to get the full text of the article.

Often, students need to find qualitative or quantitative research articles. Scroll down to find search tips for finding articles using qualitative or quantitative methodology.

 

Search Strategies

When searching for journal articles or dissertations in VSU’s databases, here are some important strategies to keep in mind.

 

Use Keywords

 

Keywords help focus your search on what you’re looking for.

Instead of searching: "What are strategies to increase student motivation in Title I schools?”

Try searching:  student motivation AND Title I

 

Boolean Operators

 

There are three Boolean operators – AND, OR and NOT.

 

AND 

Helps narrow your search.

Take the example from above:

     student motivation AND Title I

AND tells the search to look for all articles that contain both of these phrases “student motivation” AND “Title I”.

 

OR 

Helps broaden your search. OR is used to search for synonyms.  

Example: Title I OR Elementary and Secondary Education Act OR ESEA

OR tells the search that we will accept any of the synonyms in our search results. The results will contain at least one of the search terms.

 

NOT

Can help make your search more precise. If a result that is different than what you intended keeps dominating your search results, you can use NOT to remove it.

Example: If you were interested in what motivates students in Title I schools in every grade BUT sixth grade, you could search:

student motivation AND (Title I OR Elementary and Secondary Education Act OR ESEA) NOT sixth grade

 

Limiters 

 

With each result page, there is a section on the left that gives you options to limit your results. You can select limiters like: 

  • Full Text
  • Type of information source (Academic Journals, eBooks, etc.)
  • A specific journal
  • Subject 
  • Location
  • Publication date 
  • Peer Reviewed/Refereed/Scholarly Journals*

 

*When searching for journal articles, your sources are most likely required to be scholarly/peer reviewed/refereed. Dissertations can be helpful/useful sources but they are not considered to be peer-reviewed. 

 

Experiment

 

Try entering your search terms in quotations marks or parentheses. 

 

Quotation Marks

Can help keep your search terms together.  

Instead of searching: student motivation

Try searching: "student motivation"

 

​Parentheses

Can be useful if your keyword has different terms that can be used to refer to it. Putting these terms in parentheses tells the search to look for all of these terms. This strategy can help you get more relevant results. 

Example: ("Title I" OR "Elementary and Secondary Education Act" OR ESEA)

 

Accessing Articles

Once you have found an article, you will probably want to read it.  To access the article, you will look for symbols like these: 

Icon for HTML Full Text

Icon and PDF Full Text

Icon and Find It @ VSU

 

Click on the respective symbol to access the article. 

 

HTML Full Text 

 

As a rule of thumb, avoid HTML Full Text when possible as it will resemble a web page and will not contain page numbers, making citing more difficult.

 

PDF Full Text 

 

PDF Full Text links you to a PDF copy of the article that you can then e-mail to yourself or download.

 

Find It @ VSU

 

If you see the Find It @ VSU button, this indicates that there is an extra step to access the article. The article may be found in another database or resource or it might available through an Interlibrary Loan (ILL).

Searching for Qualitative Articles

The easiest way to find qualitative research on your topic is to take your existing search (formulated per the box Search Strategies) and expand upon it. 

For example, if you wanted to find qualitative research about student motivation in Title I schools, a broad search you could try is: 

"student motivation" AND "Title I" AND  qualitative

You can always expand upon qualitative by using those OR Boolean Operators. 

"student motivation" AND "Title I" AND (qualitative OR interview OR "field study" OR narrative) 

Another way you can search for qualitative research is taking advantage of the Advanced Search and database subjects using DE "Quantitative research" in a SU Subject Terms box

 

Search in Discover GALILEO "Qualitative research" has been entered in the first search box with SU Subject terms selected from the drop down menu.. In the second search box 'Title I" and in the last search box " student motivation"

 

Searching for Quantitative Articles

The easiest way to find quantitative research on your topic is to take your existing search (formulated per the box Search Strategies) and expand upon it. 

For example, if you wanted to find quantitative research about student motivation in Title I schools, a broad search you could try is: 

"student motivation" AND "Title I" AND quantitative

You can always expand upon quantitative by using those OR Boolean Operators. For example: 

"student motivation" AND "Title I" AND (quantitative OR sampling OR survey OR questionnaire) 

Another way you can search for quantitative research is taking advantage of the Advanced Search and database subjects using DE "Quantitative research" in a SU Subject Terms box. 

 

Search in Discover GALILEO "Quantitative research" has been entered in the first search box with SU Subject terms selected from the drop down menu.. In the second search box 'Title I" and in the last search box " student motivation"