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ADSUP 717: Research Seminar in Evaluating & Applying Educational Research

Databases

The library subscribes to a ton of electronic resources or databases, all of which allow users to search different, unique pools of resources. Among them are a number of databases of journal, newspaper and magazine articles.

Although each database differs in appearanc and content, they do have some similar features. Below are a few.

Common Features - Limiters

Most databases/electronic resources have special features to assist you with finding the most relevant information to meet your needs. What follows is a sampling of some of these features. However, every database is different, so prior to beginning your research in any database, you should apprise yourself of the special features therein. You will be able to conduct more powerful searches by learning about and utilizing the functions built in to each database.

Limiters
In general, limiters are located below the empty search boxes on the search screen.  See the image below for the location of limiters in EBSCO databases, specifically in ERIC. You can always consult the "Help" or "Information" menus in each database you use if you are having trouble.  Limiters help you focus your database searches by limiting your result set to items that fit certain criteria specified by you, thereby weeding out irrelevant results.

Across the board, databases allow for the limiting of searches by various criteria.  Some common limiters are:

    * Date (specific date, on or after a specific date, etc.)
    * Search within a specific publication
    * Limit to articles with full-text available**
    * Publication type (journal, magazine, newspaper, etc)
    * Document type (book review, book chapter, case study, etc.)
    * Limit to peer-reviewed (sometimes called refereed) publications only

Subject Terms and Thesauri

To assist you with your research, some databases provide the option to search or browse a collection of subject terms or a thesaurus that is specific to the database you are using.  The same way that most disciplines have jargon, databases are created using a specified set of terms called "controlled vocabulary."  According to the Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science, controlled vocabulary is:

An established list of preferred terms from which a cataloger or indexer must select when assigning subject headings or descriptors in a bibliographic record, to indicate the content of the work in a library catalog, index, or bibliographic database. Synonyms are included as lead-in vocabulary, with instructions to see or USE the authorized heading. For example, if the authorized subject heading for works about dogs is "Dogs," then all items about dogs will be assigned the heading "Dogs," including a work titled All about Canines. A cross-reference to the heading "Dogs" will be made from the term "Canines" to ensure that anyone looking for information about dogs under "Canines" will be directed to the correct heading. Controlled vocabulary is usually listed alphabetically in a subject headings list or thesaurus of indexing terms. 

Therefore, if you are researching a topic such as racism in education and you entered the term "racism" into the thesaurus in ERIC, you would see the following:



By using the thesaurus and the controlled vocabulary, you are saving yourself the frustration of searching for an invalid term that may not provide you with the results you desire. It is helpful to keep a list handy of your relevant subject terms and keywords while conducting your research. It will save you time and repeating work.

Databases for Education Research

The following is a list of well-known databases commonly used for research in Education. This list is NOT comprehensive - don't be afraid to try a different resource.

Remember to look for the common features: limiters, subject terms, etc. All will require a log-in if you are off-campus.

Find any of the resources listed below by title in the list of databases on our website.

Academic Search Complete: A mostly full-text database, ASC includes both scholarly and popular literature as well as newspapers and trade publications.

Education Research Complete: Indexes scholarly and professional literature in education as well as ERIC documents; more comprehensive than ERIC; some full-text

ERIC: includes scholarly and professional literature and ERIC documents, some full-text or links to full-text. Click here for a guide to getting started with ERIC. Click here for search tips and descriptors in ERIC.

PsycINFO: includes scholarly and professional literature in Psychology, has some full-text and links to full-text. Click here for a Quick Guide to getting started with PsycINFO.

What makes something scholarly?

In case you forget, here are two short videos to help you remember the difference between scholarly periodicals and articles, and non-scholarly or "popular" periodicals/articles.