Advanced Searching in Education Databases

Welcome to another Education Library
research tutorial. If you watched our introduction video for searching in
Education databases, then you already know how to access and perform a basic
search in Education databases, and you know how to save and send articles from
these sources. After watching this video, you’ll know some of the advanced
strategies that you can use to more effectively search in subject databases,
including searching multiple databases simultaneously and using a database
thesaurus to browse subjects and choose keywords. At this point, you’ll see that
I’ve opened ERIC(EBSCO) and I’m on the main search screen, which actually looks
similar and has some of the same search features as the Summon advanced search page. The search strategies that we covered in the “Advanced Searching in
Summon” video–including phrase searching, truncation, and Boolean operator–all
work in Education databases, as well. If you need to brush up on any of those
features, you’ll want to watch that video. Now, if you’re like me, you’re probably
always looking for ways to save time when you’re doing research and one of
the best features that some subject databases, including ERIC, offer to make
your searching more efficient is the “Choose databases” option at the top of
the page, which you can use to search multiple databases at once. I’m going to
open that and I’m given a long list of databases that I can choose from. If you
wanted, you could select all of the databases to search in, but I’m going to
select a few of the key databases for Education. ERIC is already selected, so
I’m going to add Education Source and Teacher Reference Center, and now when I search I’ll be finding articles from all of these databases. As I search, I’m
trying to answer the following question: “How can teachers help elementary
students develop digital literacies?” Now, before I start entering keywords, I want
to know if the terminology I’ve used to develop my research question is going to
get me the best search results. Often, the best terms to use as keywords when
you’re searching in a subject database are the ones that the database uses as
subject headings. Subject headings are the descriptive terms applied to each of
the articles in the database and many databases offer a thesaurus to help
users find all of their subject headings. The thesaurus can be a really useful
tool that you can use to check if you’re using the same terminology as the
database, or if the database represents your keywords with a different term that
you can use instead. So I’m going to open a thesaurus and, because I’m searching in
multiple databases, I can find the thesauri at the top of the screen here
under “Subjects.” If you’re searching in a single database, the word “subjects” here
would be replaced by “thesaurus,” which you would click instead. I can see that both
Education Source and ERIC have a thesaurus for me to use and I’m going to
open the Education Source thesaurus. From here, I’m going to enter “digital
literacy,” which is one of the terms I plan to use as a keyword during my
search and then click “browse.” You’ll see that I’m being told that, instead of
the term “digital literacy,” I should use “computer literacy,” which is one of the
database’s subject headings. This means that any articles related to digital
literacy will actually have “computer literacy” as a subject heading. While I’m
here, I’m also going to search for any other terms that might be related and
useful as keywords. To do so, I’m going to select “computer literacy” and look at the
broader and related terms. The thesaurus is showing me terms like “technological
literacy” and “Internet literacy” as subject headings and searching with any
of these terms will likely help me find articles related to digital literacy, as
well. Now when I start my search, I’m going to combine some of those related
terms with OR in the first search row so that I find articles that have any of
those terms as subject headings, and I’ll add my second keyword “elementary school” and some related terms like “primary school,” “grade school,” and “elementary
education” in the second row and then I’ll perform my search. From here, you can
use the strategies covered in the introduction video for searching in
Education databases, like the filters and the folders, to finish your search. Now
you should be even more prepared to search effectively in Education
databases, but please reach out to the education librarians for more assistance
with your searching.

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