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COUNS 717: Foundations of School Counseling


Brainstorming is your friend! There is ALWAYS more than one way to express an idea or approach a research topic. Think for a few minutes to identify:

  • key concepts and ideas (women and sports)
  • synonyms and related concepts (female, girls, athletics, etc.)
  • broader concepts (gender)
  • narrower concepts (teenage girls)

Use truncation (*) to get variant spellings and multiple endings of words (theatre/theater, labor/labour, teach/teaching/teacher/teachers, etc)

Use the "subjects" or "thesaurus" tab in many databases to identify better ways to describe your topic.

Cross Searching in EBSCO Databases

As you may have noticed, many of the suggested databases for you to try are provided by the same company, EBSCO. One nice thing about that is that EBSCO allows you to cross-search, or search more than one of their resources at a time.

Here's how:

Once you enter a database from the library's website, for example, ERIC, look for the "Choose Databases" option at the top of the screen:

From this list, you can choose as many databases as you would like to search. I suggest no more than 3 or 4, because we are trying to get at BETTER results, not necessarily MORE results.

If you are not sure what a database includes from the title, hover your  mouse over the little thought bubble next to the title. It will give you detailed information about the resource, and you can decide if you want to search it or not.

Boolean Basics

Most databases love it when you use Boolean operators to search. If you're dying to know what "Boolean" means, here is the guy it is named for. In any case, you will get better results if you take a few minutes to construct a search or two before clicking the search button. These Venn diagrams illustrate the effects of the different operators: AND, OR, NOT. Keep an eye out for these in different databases. Sometimes they are obvious, sometimes they are hidden. Can you locate the Boolean operators in ERIC (image above)?

Remember, by default Google adds an AND in between whatever words you enter. Use the advanced search option (yes, Google has one) to create a better search.