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Education and Childhood Studies: Literature searching

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg

Finding Journal Articles

Finding Journal Articles Short Course

This short course provides an introduction to finding journal articles. Click the link below to launch the course.

Introduction to finding journal articles short course

Finding journal articles (Advanced search strategies)

Finding Journal Articles (Advanced Search Strategies)

The following short course provides guidance on advance search strategies for finding journal articles. It should only take 5-10 minutes to complete. Click the link below to launch the course.

Finding Journal Artciles Advanced Short Course image

Successful literature searching

Spending a small amount of time thinking about your search strategy will really help you when finding information for your assignments.  They key points to a good search strategy are:

  • Defining your Keywords
  • Setting limits (ie: date of publication, language)
  • Where are you going to search? (databases, websites etc.)
  • Recording your results

There is a wide range of information you may like to include in your assignments.  This includes:

  • Books - We recommend that you start with your module reading list in Canvas to find key texts on your topic.
  • Journal articles 
  • Grey Literature - This is basically anything not published in a journal, for example conference proceedings, Government documents, Reports from Organizations.

Getting your keywords right is a very important part of the search process, the more literature you read on your  topic the more keywords and key terms you will come across.  At the beginning of your search you may only have a few keywords, with these you can conduct a scoping search (a brief, broad search) to get an overview of how much literature there is on your topic.  Based on your results you can then refine your keywords and rerun your search.

Correct combination of your keywords using boolean operators (AND/OR/NOT) will be important.  We have created a research record form to help you to think about keywords for your search.  

NB: Some of our databases will also have Subject Headings/Thesaurus headings.  Using subject heading searches is an advanced way of searching for literature and can provide a useful, focused set of results.  Each database will have a help page with further details.

Critically appraising your sources is a crucial element of any literature search and a question we get asked a lot.  Check that your sources are:

  • reliable
  • academic enough
  • Free from bias

The CRAAP test may help. It is a checklist for evaluating web sources.

Effective searching with Google

Google can be a useful tool for finding information online. However, it can be difficult to find the most relevant and reliable sources of information from a list of thousands or millions of results. Don't assume the results at the top are the best ones! The following strategies will help you search Google more effectively.

Search a website or group of websites

Use your keywords and the command site:url to find results from one website or from a group of websites. For instance, a search for foundation phase site:gov.wales will find information about the Foundation Phase from the Welsh Government website. You could use site:ac.uk to search academic websites.

Find a particular type of document

Use the command filetype: to limit your search to a particular type of document. This can be useful if you are looking for a certain type of information. For example, if you government documents are likely to be published in PDF form, so you could use filetype:pdf to limit your results to PDFs and make it easier to find what you need. Numerical data is likely to appear in a spreadsheet, so you could use filetype:xls to look for Excel documents.

Google Scholar searches scholarly literature such as journal articles and abstracts, but you may have difficulty accessing the full-text of the material you find. Linking your Google Scholar account to Swansea University will help with this. Just go to the settings cog from the menu

 

and then go to Library Links to find Swansea University.

 

Why use library databases instead of Google Scholar?

Although Google Scholar can be useful, iFind and subject databases such as Science Direct have certain key advantages:-

  • Identify peer-reviewed articles.
  • Easy access to an abstract (summary of the article).
  • Easy access to the full article, where available, with no extra charges.
  • Citations and reference lists for each article - usefull for widening your reading.
  • Pre-publication research.
  • Be more organised -  options to email, download & integration with bibliography managers (like Endnote).