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Education Doctoral Program Orientation

Controlled Vocabulary

Sometimes keyword searching doesn't retrieve enough relevant sources. Instead, try searching with the subject (headings), or controlled vocabulary, of the database. Review your result list of books or articles. When you find a good relevant one, look for subject headings to quickly lead you to more relevant articles on your topic.

For example, the article below was one of the results for the keyword search on "faculty development." By checking the Subjects, you can see the term this database uses is "teacher development."

 

 

To find out what other subjects are related or similar, and therefore can be searched with an OR between the subjects, go to the database's thesaurus. The link to the thesaurus is usually located at the top of the screen (EBSCOhost), or within the Advanced Search option (ProQuest).

Following our example above, searching "faculty development" leads to "teacher development," and from that subject we can see there are other related subjects:

 

 

Ask a librarian if you have trouble finding the subject headings.

Citation Chaining

Citation chaining is the process of looking at the sources cited by a selected article's author(s), but also looking for sources which used that article as a cited source.

To look back at previously used sources:

  1. Consult the article's references, bibliography, hyperlinks, or footnotes.
  2. If you find a possibly relevant cited source, find that source and look at its citations.
  3. Continue looking back through older sources and their citations until you are satisfied with your search.

To look forward in time for newer sources:

  1. Use Google Scholar “cited by” for a relevant article or other source to see who has quoted it since it was written. (This doesn't work well for newer sources since enough time hasn't elapsed since their publication to be referred to in other works.)
  2. ProQuest databases also provide similar linking for some sources. In the example below, there is a link to the references for the article as well as to those sources which have cited this article.

 

 

Limiting Criteria

Too many results? Look at the limiters in the database -- usually in the left column -- for a way to reduce the number of results to more relevant sources. Here are few limiters that you might find useful:

  • Source type - This is the most common limiter to narrow the results to scholarly journal articles, dissertations, books, etc.
  • Publication date - Use this to limit how far in the past you want your results to be; earliest result can indicate the origin of an idea or event
  • Document type - Looking for a literature review or dissertation? This limiter can help locate only the types of sources you are seeking
  • Subject - Select results by the database's subject headings; the number of results are indicated for each subject

Creating an Effective Search Strategy

Use this widget to create effective search strategies for searching in databases!

 

Concept 1 and Concept 2 and Concept 3
Name your concepts here    
Search terms Search terms Search terms
List alternate terms for each concept.

These can be synonyms, or they can be specific examples of the concept.

Use single words, or "short phrases" in quotes

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or