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Education Research: A Guide for Searching the Education Literature

This is a guide for searching the education literature in a health sciences context.

Best Practices of Searching

This is a guide to help you do effective research in the education literature.

Best Practices of Searching

1. Frame an Answerable Question

  • Is it focused and specific?
  • Is it complex? If a quick Google search can answer your question, you should probably work on it further.

Your question will likely change as you collect information and do research. However, starting with a clear, focused question will direct you to the resources to search, allow you to know where to start, and help any collaborators you have agree with the direction of the research.

2. Select the Appropriate Resource to Search

Depending on your question, you can select any number of databases or resources to find information or answers. There are many databases and tools available through the OHSU Library website, and on this guide, you can find links to databases specific to education topics. We recommend you search more than one database for the most comprehensive search. Searching is a process; each resource contains different kinds of information. Understanding what the resource, or database, you are searching contains, how it is organized, and who produces it will go a long way to finding your information as efficiently as possible.

3. Evaluate your Information

  • Does it answer your question?
  • Do you need to rework your question?
  • Do you need to search a different resource/database?
  • Do you need to do a more effective search in the same database?

4. Redo, if necessary

Searching is an iterative process. Because it is a cycle, the information you find for your initial question often allows you to change how you did your initial search. You can go back to the beginning to modify your question adding the information or data you found in your search. Or you can select a different database or information resource because you have more knowledge gained from the first database you searched. Or you can use more targeted terminology, or subject headings, in the same database because you have learned the structure of language that database uses. Being flexible and incorporating the knowledge you learn to modify your search process will always give you better results.

5. And remember, always consult your librarian if you have questions.