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Education - Doing Literature Reviews

Finding scholarly articles

You may be most comfortable beginning your search for journal articles in Google Scholar, with its familiar search platform (if you're off campus, use this link or any link from the library pages, so that you'll be authenticated to access fulltext articles whenever Scholar results say "FindIT @ the UofC") 


Journal databases
Eventually you'll have to use the library's journal databases, in order to do a comprehensive search, and ensure you find the most relevant articles. A preliminary search in the library search box may help you identify relevant databases (on the results page, look at the bottom of the column of journal article titles for suggested databases). 

To find journal articles on education topics, we recommend these databases

Tips for successful database searching

Limit your search appropriately
• To peer-reviewed articles if appropriate
• DON'T limit to full-text within any particular database, since the Find the Fulltext feature will often find the full-text elsewhere.


Combine search terms to narrow results 

 • Use AND to narrow your search 

 • Use OR to broaden your search to include synonyms

 • Combine your different searches (some databases have good ‘search history’ capabilities to make this possible)


 Find the right vocabulary (the 'authorized' subject terms for your topic)

 Look for:

  - the 'subject headings' assigned to promising articles (watch demo)

  - 'narrowing' suggestions or ‘suggested topics’ (watch demo)

  - lists of 'authorized' subject terms (sometimes called a thesaurus) - watch demo


Search the fields that give targeted results

Default search - normally a ‘keyword’ search looking for your search terms anywhere. A good beginning but often gives many irrelevant results

Subject field - searches for subject terms assigned by indexers. Use this field after you've 'found the right vocabulary" (see above) 

Title field - searches only the title of articles. Can effectively limit to relevant articles, especially when vocabulary in the field is changing


Use the database tools to advantage

. Create a folder (requires setting up a free personal account in the database) and then mark and save promising titles, or save your search.

. Export citations to citation management software

. Set up alerts to be notified of new articles on your topic

Navigating EBSCO databases

To remind yourself 'where the buttons are,' look at these screenshots from an EBSCO databases called Academic Search Complete (many library databases, including ERIC) use this search interface.

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