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Research Tools for Literature Reviews in Education

This guide accompanies the workshop of the same name!

Developing Search Terms

  • Choose key search terms that describe your topic. Consider synonyms and related terms. 
  • Terms to describe relationships between ideas: impact, benefits, effect, influence, outcome, result, consequence
  • Terms to describe study methodology: qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods, survey, interview, ethnography
  • You can use the term "literature review" to find other review articles on your topic! 

Each database uses a specific and unique vocabulary (i.e., a list of approved terms) to describe article contents. In ERIC, these are called "descriptor terms."

You can look up these terms using the Thesaurus feature in ERIC. 

Pay attention to the terms that are assigned to articles you find. The database vocabulary terms can be found in the database record for the article. Example: 

Evaluating Your Sources

Be a smart shopper when selecting articles, whether in a subscription database or on the open internet. You'll want to pay attention to qualities or characteristics such as: 

  • publication date
  • author affiliation 
  • nature of the publication: scholarly journal? popular magazine? trade publication? something else?

In the record above, you'll find clues to answer all of these questions. Look for the publication date, authors' names (google them!), and the name of the journal. You can search for the website of the journal to find more information about the publication if it is unfamiliar to you. 

Notice the Y next to the words "Peer Reviewed." This article has been through the peer review process before publication in this journal. 

Get help anytime from the University Libraries! 

Your liaison librarian is Lisa Jarrell (contact information in the left column of this page). 

You can also reach out to other librarians by visiting our Ask a Librarian suite of services.