The first step to conducting effective searches is to know where to search. The library has hundreds of databases - these are the best ones to search for education research:
Mastering search terms and search limiters can help you conduct more effective searches.
Search terms are the words and phrases you search for.
Search limiters are things like language, date range, content type, and more. Search limiters will vary greatly depending on what kind of database or search tool you're using.
Be as specific as possible
Generally, you'll get fewer, but more relevant articles the more specific you can be. For example, "adolescent literacy" is a better search phrase than just "literacy."
Use quotation marks
Sometimes, when you search for a phrase, you get a lot of results that contain the words in that phrase, but not a lot of results for the phrase itself. You can search for the exact phrase by putting it in quotation marks. Compare these two searches:
Search results for "adolescent literacy" without quotation marks
Search results for "adolescent literacy" with quotation marks
Use subject terms
When looking at your search results, keep an eye on the subject terms beneath each article title. This can help you:
Here's an example search result for "community of practice," with the subject terms highlighted:
If any of the subject terms look like good matches, you can revise your search to reflect them:
Consider alternative wordings or spellings
If your research topic has other names, search for those as well. Don't forget to consider small differences, too - for example, I found many more results searching for "communities of practice" than I did searching for "community of practice."
Most of the databases you'll use are provided through EBSCOHost - here are a few helpful limiters I recommend using:
Scholarly, peer-reviewed articles
Be patient, and be kind to yourself. There's no such thing as a perfect search - even good searches require you to separate the relevant from the irrelevant.
There's only so much you can do with search terms and limiters...check out the next page for another way of finding relevant resources.