Secondary Education Research : Search Strategies

Know Your Assignment Requirements

Research Assignment and Instructor Expectations

  • Completed by due date (the Research Project Calculator can help you plan to finish on time)
  • Length of finished product
  • Sources selected and used
  • References/citation form
  • Organization and flow of ideas
  • Writing skills

Topic Selection

  • Select/define/refine/focus your idea
  • Brainstorm
  • 5 Ws (who, what, why, when, where) and how
  • Determine if you will be able to cover all the important points of your topic in the space you have to fill

Access Databases from Off Campus

Only current CSUN students, faculty and staff can access our databases from off campus. To access the databases from off campus, click the name of the database. You will then see a screen asking you to log in, using your CSUN User ID and password (the same ID and password you use to log in to the portal).

An alternative is to download and use the campus Virtual Private Network. This allows you to use your computer as if it was on campus. The VPN also supports uploading files to your campus udrive.

For more information, see Accessing Library Resources from Off-Campus and the Library's Copyright Statement (in particular, the Appropriate Use of Oviatt Library's Electronic Resources section).

Keyword Searching

  1. Use keyword when your term may be very new, very distinctive, or jargon, e.g. "instant messaging", "XML".
  2. Use a variety of keywords. There may be additional items on your topic that use different terms.
  3. Be aware that you may retrieve items not related to your topic (called false drops)
  4. When you cannot remember the exact title of an item, do a keyword search using the title words you remember.

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are words (or, and, not) used to connect search terms to expand (or) or narrow (and, not) a search within a database to locate relevant information. Boolean operators are also called logical operators or connectors.

It is helpful to diagram the effects of these operators:

Or Relationship Image

women or females

Or retrieves records that contain any of the search terms. It expands the search. Therefore, use "or" in between terms that have the same meaning (synonyms) or equal value to the search.

And Relationship Image

women and media

And retrieves records that contain all of the search terms. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "and" in between terms that are required to make the search specific.

Not Relationship Image

image not weight

Not eliminates records that contain a search term. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "not" in front of a term to ensure that the search will not include that term. Warning: Some databases use "and not" instead of "not." Check the database help screen.

Truncation

  • Most databases allow for a symbol to be used at the end of a word to retrieve variant endings of that word. This is known as truncation.
  • Using truncation will broaden your search. For example,

    bank* will retrieve: bank or banks or banking or banker or bankruptcy, etc.

  • Databases and Internet search engines use different symbols to truncate. In general, most of the Library's databases use the asterisk (*) ; however, the exclamation point (!) is used in LexisNexis. Check the database help screen to find the correct truncation symbol.
  • Be careful using truncation. Truncating after too few letters will retrieve terms that are not relevant. For example:

    cat* will also retrieve cataclysm, catacomb, catalepsy, catalog, etc.

    It's best to use the boolean operator "or" in these instances (cat or cats).

Evaluating Print & Electronic Resources

World Wide Web sites come in many sizes and styles. How do you distinguish a site that gives reliable information from one that gives incorrect information? Below are some guidelines to help.

For both print and Internet resources, consider:

 

Authority
Content
Coverage
Timeliness
Accuracy
Objectivity

Types of Web Sites: the url is a key

.gov
.edu
.org
.com

Scholarly Journals (Peer-reviewed/Referreed)

Image of American Journal of Philology
  • Authors are authorities in their fields.
  • Authors cite their sources in endnotes, footnotes, or bibliographies.
  • Individual issues have little or no advertising.
  • Articles must go through a peer-review or refereed process.
  • Articles are usually reports on scholarly research.
  • Illustrations usually take the form of charts and graphs.
  • Articles use jargon of the discipline.

Saving Items to E-mail, Print or Download from the Library Catalog

To save items:

  • From a multiple item results list, select the checkboxes next to the items you wish to save, then click Save Marked Records.
  • In an individual record, click Save Record.

To export items:

  1. To e-mail, print or download saved items, click the "View Saved" button.
  2. Choose an export format:
    • "Brief Display" includes publication information only.
    • "Full Display" includes location, call number, subject headings, and other descriptive information.
    • "End-Note/RefWorks" to export citations for use in EndNote Web, EndNote Desktop, or Refworks.
  3. Under "Send list to" choose an export method:
    • For e-mail: select E-mail and provide a "Mail To" address and subject line
    • For printing: select screen (you will use the browser's print function)
    • For saving as a text (.txt) file or other file format: select local disk
  4. Click Submit.

Citation Formatting Tools