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EDUC 8220: Intro to Research & Policy (Wilson-Donato): Hone the Process

This guide accompanies the graduate level introduction to research and policy course in the School of Education

This three minute clip is a great refresher on searching ERIC or similar scholarly databases for journal articles. If you'd like more in-depth help with database searching, feel free to make an appointment with Linds or other Libraries staff!

Figuring out the right scope for your topic can be tough when you are new to a field. This slideshow gives some strategies for recognizing if a topic is too broad or too narrow, and for making adjustments. Using a Search Log to track the terms used and the number of results is another great way to determine if your scope is too broad, narrow, or "just right." In general:

  •  Linds finds that 2,000 or more results is a sign that you can add additional keywords to narrow.
  • If you have fewer than 30 results, this is a good sign to broaden by removing keywords or zooming out on your topic or geography (for example, from Colorado, you could try the Western United States, entire United States, or US, Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand)
  • For a 20 page literature review, a "happy zone" seems to be about 60-100 search results, indicating there is enough to write about, and not so much as to be overwhelming
  • Interdisciplinary work may require more than one search strategy, and searching outside of Education databases (feel free to ask Linds for recommendations!)