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CI Graduate Research in Curriculum & Instruction

Resources for graduate-level research in Curriculum & Instruction

Welcome & Getting Started

Welcome to the C&I Graduate-Level Research LibGuide.  The materials in this guide were developed to help bring together resources for research in education topics at the graduate level.  You can proceed step-wise through the guide using the previous and next buttons at the bottom of each page, or use the contents at the left as a guide.

The Research Notebook or Diary

Some people find it useful to keep a research diary or notebook to organize their research process, keep track of resources used (or to be used), note questions left to be answered, and to develop a comprehensive search strategy that can be used in multiple research resources.

Some things you may want to note in your research diary include:

  • Your thesis statement or central research question (to help you focus and evaluate sources)
  • Call number ranges that are useful for browsing for information on your topic or subtopics
  • Subject headings associated with your research topic
    • Library of Congress subject headings
    • ERIC descriptors
    • Other databases' subject headings
  • Keywords and synonyms to be included in a search strategy.  It's often useful to start lists or 'clusters' for each topic you will be working with.  Remember to include broader and narrower terms as necessary (e.g., not just 'science' but also chemistry, physics, biology, etc.)
  • Major authors or theoreticians relevant to your topic

Developing a Search Strategy

1. Break up your topic

Try to think of your topic as a combination of factors that will all come together in the ‘perfect’ article, rather than a single sentence.

Eliminate parts of the topic that are implied by the database (e.g., you don’t have to search ‘education’ or ‘students’ when everything in the database will relate.)


2. Cover all your options

Brainstorm different words or phrases that could be used for each part of the topic.

If the database has a thesaurus (i.e., ERIC), use the database functionality to help you find the right words.

If you do a simple search and find a few articles, look at the Subject Headings (or Descriptors) to see what words the database may use for your topic.

Remember to expand acronyms, for example:  FERPA = Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

***Search for each part of the topic, combining synonyms or near-synonyms with OR.***


3. Put it all together

***Combine all parts of your topic (the ‘OR’ searches above) using AND to require that all parts are in everything that comes back.***

Didn’t get anything?  Try leaving out the most specific or peripheral parts of the search… you may be breaking new ground!

In some databases (Education Research Complete, Google Scholar), you can search within the text of the article for your words… be prepared to get a lot!

Get too much?  You can be more specific by looking at the database limits, for example, by publication year, type, grade level, language, audience, etc.

Still too much?  You may need to add in more specific criteria, or you could try your search again using only the databases’ approved ‘Subject’ terminology.


4. clean up

Read abstracts to determine what is really relevant.

Store records (or add to your folder) so that you can e-mail the results to yourself… include the search history with your e-mail if possible.

Use the Find It @ UToledo  to see what is available.  If you come across the full text of an article, you can save it or print.


5. Follow up

If you find particularly good articles, be sure to follow up on their lists of references.  Also, follow up on articles that may have cited your article using the Social Sciences Citation Index database.