Learning Theories

Course #: EU 503A

Searching the Literature

Searching for prior research at university is quite a bit more difficult than you would think at first glance. The Library gives you access to a wide range of databases in different subject areas that can help you discover what is already known about a topic of your interest. You will need to keep a couple of factors in mind to successfully locate the best research available.

  1. Look in the right place. Start with our Education subject guide which leads you to two primary database bundles I use for locating excellent research in Education. Education @ ProQuest is the easier to search, but articles linked here can lead you to our Ebsco interface as well as other places, including PsycInfo and ERIC. Don't forget to follow the get-it-@-Laurier link to reach an article outside of ProQuest.
  2. Use the right words. Vocabulary is everything because the English language is so very complex. It's not what you call it but which subject heading the indexer chose to describe your topic. Use the page How to "Anne Kelly" your search to learn how to go from the words you think it might be to the actual subject headings used. Keywords are what we think it might be, but subject headings follow a controlled vocabulary, so they might be quite different than keywords. For example, even though you are the other cohort, "student affairs" is the wording used in North America, but in other parts of the world it is called "student personnel services" or "student personnel workers". For us, this difference is not intuitive.
  3. Always look for "peer-reviewed" articles. Because we are not all experts in the field of education (at least not yet), it is wise to look for journal articles that have been deemed by other scholars to be of excellent quality. They are also called "refereed", "academic", or "scholarly".
  4. Use reference management to organize your articles. I use Mendeley (web version) to organize and sort my articles because once I have the .pdf of the article, I just drag and drop it into the correct folder on Mendeley. There's no typing needed- the software pulls the relevant information and keeps it for you along with a copy of the paper itself. There is a Citation add-on available for Word that allows you to insert references in your chosen style into the body of your paper and creates your bibliography for you. Using Mendeley's plugin for Word (tutorial) Now keep in mind that this is software that is doing the work- you still need to know your citation style in order to recognize errors.

Journals that might be helpful

E-books that might be helpful

Getting further help