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ENGD02: Teaching Academic Writing: Theories, Methods and Service Learning

Revise Your Search Terms

Remember: using more specific language will yield more specific results. While you can expand searches by including all possible synonyms and related terms, certain terms with broad applications might accidentally steer your search off-track. 

For example, if you're really interested in tests (as a form of student assessment), the term "test" will also retrieve articles that conduct studies with test groups (as a form of research methodology). If you're only interested in one of these contexts, it's helpful to refine your search terms to reflect that specificity, if at all possible. For example, you might try "test-taking" or "in-class test" as an narrower term. 

Additionally, try adding another search field with AND, in which you can specify extra qualifiers, like a location or age group that you're interested in. While OR generates more results, AND generates fewer -- every time you add another key concept with AND, you'll find fewer results (as there's less available that fits all of your criteria).

Limit by Filters

You can use the filters (or facets) in databases and discovery layers to narrow your search. Some helpful filters include:

  • Peer Reviewed
    • Limits your results to articles that have undergone the peer-review publication process, in which an article is reviewed by other experts in its field before acceptance to a journal.
  • Scholarly
    • Though scholarly journal articles are frequently peer reviewed, these two terms are not interchangeable; "scholarly" is a broader category of publications that are written by and for subject experts in a field. 
  • Format (i.e., articles, books, newspapers, dissertations, reports, etc.)
    • Search tools typically contain a variety of resource types, and the format you consider will depend on your assignment, topic, and research needs. This filter allows you to eliminate those resources from your results list that are irrelevant or out of scope.
  • Date Range
    • Limiting your results to those published within a particular timeframe can ensure that you're looking at timely work that reflects current developments in the field. The importance of date will depend heavily on your area of research.
  • Subject
    • While searching by keyword is often our primary way of finding relevant resources, item records are also tagged with subject headings.
    • When we search with keywords, the search tool will find any mention of that keyword in the record or full-text of a resource. Alternatively, subject headings are controlled terms that are applied to resource records based on their content. For example, if you find a record that's tagged with "environmental education," you can feel confident that the article deals substantively with that topic. 
    • You can include or exclude subject headings with which your articles have been tagged; additionally, if you see a subject term describing exactly an aspect of your research, you can click through to see all research in a database that has been tagged with that subject.

Is it Academic?

Your Praxis assignment specifies that at least two articles must come from academic journals. How do you know?

1. Use database filters

Most databases include a filter to narrow your results to just academic or scholarly journals. Many also include a filter for magazines, which is where you'll find articles from non-academic sources, sometimes called professional or trade publications in the field of Education.

Screenshot of ProQuest database interface highlighting filters for scholarly journals and filter for magazines

2. Search for the journal in UlrichsWeb

Once in UlrichsWeb, search for the title of the journal your article is located in (rather than the title of the individual article, itself).

Screenshot demonstrating a search for a journal in UlrichsWeb

Select the version of the journal you're reading (probably online!) and look for the "Content Type" field.

Screenshot of UlrichsWeb Content Type field displaying "Academic/Scholarly"