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Education: Planning a literature search

Contents

Identifying important concepts

Redundant words

Spelling

Phrases

Truncation

Copyright

The Internet - C.A.R.P

 

Currency - How old is the information?  When was it last updated?

Authority - Who is the author/site creator? What is their background? Is the article published in a scholarly/peer reviewed journal?

Relevance - Is this what I need? Will it answer my question?  Is it at the right level, is it academic?

Purpose - What is the purpose of the information, e.g. financial gain, propaganda, academic, etc.

 

Based on CSU Chico

Introduction

There are three stages to finding literature for a literature review: planning, searching; and finding. A literature search is not just a single database search – you will need to look for different ideas, and perhaps in different places depending on what you are looking for.

 

Before you can start to search for literature, you need to know exactly what you are looking for. By planning out your search now it will save you a great deal of time in searching later.

Identifying important concepts

You then need to determine what the underlying concepts are and then think of all possible words that express this concept, so that you do not miss any relevant work. These are your KEYWORDS.

Redundant words

Some words in your sentence will be redundant because they are another way of expressing the same concept, or they can be determined from reading the actual material. For example “novel methods” – search for every type of method, then decide which are novel by reading the item.

Spelling

Make a note of both British and American spellings of words as you will need to use both in your searching. For example behaviour and behavior.

Phrases

If there is a particular group of words that are always used to describe a particular concept, treat them as a phrase – this means that you only want results where the words are used together in the given order. For example “special needs”.

Truncation

Use truncation to use a single term for related words that express the same concept. The truncation symbol is usually * or $ - the ‘help’ for each database should tell you. For example “optim*” will find optimise; optimised; optimising; optimal; optimum. It will also find all the American spelling of these words.

Example

Essay title:
Are children with special educational needs really included in mainstream education?

Concepts:

SEN
Inclusion
Children

Keywords for concept of SEN:
"Special needs"
Disabled
"Learning difficulty"
Dyslexia
Dyspraxia

SEN

Keywords for concept of Inclusion:
Mainstream
Primary
School
Inclus*
Includ*
Exclud*
Integrat*
Secondary

Keywords for concept of Children:
Child*
Infant
Young
Youth
Adolescent
Pre-school
Pupil
Student