1. Start with the words that are familiar to you. If your research topic is to discuss different strategies for teaching hearing impaired children in an English as Second Language elementary classroom your possible search terms might be:
English Language Learning
Some databases allow you to put the key terms in a word string in one box: "hearing impairment" "English language learning" children
You don't need to include operators such as AND in the case of databases using a Google-like search box. For other databases you are required to separate the concepts and join them with the operator AND. This means that each term must be included in the article in some way as a keyword.
Each of these terms is entered into one of the search boxes on the database search screen. You might also include synonyms in the same box joined by the OR operator.
|AND|| English language learning or Second language learning
But this search may not and probably will not yield the best results. There are two things you can do to make your search more precise:
First, determine additional synonyms or related terms. Often these are more specific and use the language of the profession. Such as "Deafness" You might even consider joining like terms together in the same line: hearing impairments OR deafness. The term hard-of-hearing might be used as a keyword but is not a commonly used term. You would use Partial Hearing instead.
The second is to pay attention to subject headings when they are available. For example, using WorldCat Research Station uses the subject heading Hearing impared. This will give you the best results.
Boolean searching, knowing the language of the discipline and understanding and using the concept of subject headings will make your searching more precise and as a result yield the best results.
You should know that there are three Boolean operators:
AND--each of the words or terms must be in the record, AND reduces the number of results.
OR--increases the size of the set you are searching.
NOT--excludes a particular word or concept from the search.
Here is an easy way to remember what to look for when evaluating the information that you find. These questions will help you assess what you might find most useful.
CARS: Credibility, Accuracy, Reasonableness, Support
Credibility. Is this source trustworthy? What are the author’s credentials? Is he or she known or a respected authority on this topic? Is there evidence of quality control? Goal: an authoritative source, a source that supplies some good evidence that allows you to trust it.
Accuracy. Is the informatio up to date, factual, detailed, exact, comprehensive? What is the intended audience and purpose? Does it reflect intentions of completeness and accuracy. Goal: a source that is correct today (not yesterday), a source that gives the whole truth.
Reasonableness. Is the presentation fair, balanced, objective, reasoned? Can you find that the author has no conflict of interest? Is there an absence of fallacies or slanted tone. Goal: a source that engages the subject thoughtfully and reasonably, concerned with the truth.
Support: Does this information provide background sources or references? Is there contact information for the author? Are claims supported, documentated and corroborated?. Goal: a source that provides convincing evidence for the claims made, a source you can triangulate (that is are you able to find at least two other sources (non web) that support it).
taken from VIrtual Salt. Robert Harris http://www.virtualsalt.com/evalu8it.htm
These questions are useful for evaluating books and articles, too.
Characteristics of a Scholarly (AKA Peer-reviewed, Refereed) Article
1. Title may/may not indicate scholarship with words in title such as “journal” or “review” or “research.”
2. Main purpose is original research or thinking.
3. Will nearly always have an abstract (descriptive summary of the research) written by the author.
4. Language of the article assumes technical background knowledge.
5. Author is usually a scholar or researcher. Usually affiliated with an academic community
6. May contain graphics, illustrations, charts, etc. as supporting evidence.
7. Article has been evaluated by “peers” – other experts in the field who agree that the research meets standards, is original and adds to the scholarly conversation.
8. The length of the article is usually more than 4-5 pages. Can be quite lengthy!
9. Method of study is generally acceptable within the discipline of study. The academy determines this.
10. A scholarly article will always have a list of references used (footnotes and bibliography.)
11. Reputable scholarly articles will not heavily rely on websites, news sources, but will use previous scholarly research.
There are many places to start your search. I will use as my example the research question: What does the literature say about different strategies for teaching hearing impaired children in an English as Second Language elementary classrooms in the United States?
Here is a search strategy that I recommend for beginning your search, no matter what your topic might be.
In the search box: hearing impaired teaching strategies english language teaching
Another search might be: "hearing impaired" international children
Why did I include quotation marks around "hearing impaired"? This connects the two words into a phrase so I am not searching hearing OR impaired but "hearing impaired" as words right next to each other.
Next, carefully review the results. There are a couple of excellent articles that give you necessary background information as well as citations for some key resources in the bibliography at the end of the article. Note the options on the left side of the screen. You can also follow through to the links to Google Scholar and JSTOR using the same search string. Academic Search Premier, however, yields no resuts. That is because you will need to employ Boolean searching of multiple search boxes mentioned in another box on this page.
The number of words in the article may be important as you decide on which articles to read. Longer articles will have more than a quick defiintion and may provide additonal key information and terms and names of experts in the field of study of that topic. Also when using articles in CREDO or any other source you can use those sources to find additional ones as well as items that have used this article as a source. This is an important way of gathering all of the necessary information you need for a literature review.
2. WorldCat Research Station--Advanced Search.
Using the pull down box you may wish to choose Libraries Worldwide for a comprehensive search or If you want only what to find only what Taylor has access to or owns, you may change the pull-down menu to limit only to Taylor. When using World Cat Research Station you should know that you can employ two kinds of searching kw: or su:
For example: kw:children "hearing impaired" "english as a second language"
Using kw: or su: is important in locating the best resources. After you have determined the search words you can choose to limit by formats, language and dates.
HERE IS A TIP: When you narrow by date using the facets on the left side you will only be able to search one year at a time. Since your assignment specifically limits searching to the last 5 years you might employ the Advanced Search option to limit by a range of dates. In that way you can search from 2010-2014 in one search along with the keywords you have selected.