EDUC 253A: Research in Writing

Search Tips

Search engines vary in their ability and approach to handling search terms.  Although most are based in Boolean logic (i.e., use functions such as "and", "or", "not"),  some allow more search terms to be searched at once, some are more granular to permit greater depth in research, and some search not only keywords, but all or selected fields of bibliographic records.  This is a quick guide to the use of the three core education databases available at UCB.

CSA Illumina.  This is the search engine linked to ERIC, PsycInfo, Communications Abstracts, Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts, International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, and MLA International Bibliography.  This is one of the most powerful search engines for scholarly literature.  Take advantage of both rows and columns to include synonyms, related terms, additional terms, and to search specific fields.   For example, a subject search for empirical studies on writing instruction might be:

Row One: KW (Keyword) = writing instruction
Row Two: ME (Method) = study or empirical
Row Three: TM (Tests & Measurements) = test or index or questionnaire

WilsonWeb.  This is the search engine linked to Education Index, Education Index Retrospective, Book Review Digest, Essay and General Literature, Humanities & Social Science, and Readers Guide.  WilsonWeb provides only a column of search terms linked with “and”, “or”, or “not”.  Do not check the box labeled “fulltext” as you will miss most of the material available online at UC and find only the content we buy from Wilson.  UC buys content from hundreds of other vendors. WilsonWeb points to this content which is seamlessly linked and findable via the UC-eLinks yellow bultton. 

A sample subject search for empirical studies on writing instruction might be:

Row One: KW (Keyword) = “writing instruction”
Row Two: KW (Keyword )= “empirical study”

WilsonWeb is not as granular as CSA Illumina, in that it does not permit searching by fields such as Methodology or Tests & Measurements.  Also, it is important to place phrases in quotation marks.

ERA (Educational Research Abstracts Online) is on the Informaworld platform.  Because it is a smaller, more focused database, it is most effective when broader, more general terms are searched.  Use the advanced search screen to deselect additional databases not related to education.  

To do a subject search for empirical studies on writing instruction, follow this example:

KW (Keyword) = writing instruction

This search produces a very manageable set of less than 100 results.

EndNote X4.  Click EndNote Exercises for Sue Koskinen's class exercises for EndNote X4.



Last Update: August 28, 2013 10:42 | Tagged with: education literacy writing