Library Research Tips
- Write your initial thesis statement.
- Circle the KEY WORDS (natural language). You will use them in your initial search.
- Qualitative research generates non-numerical data and is often used to explore and understand people’s beliefs, experiences, attitudes, behavior, and interactions.
- Qualitative research provides insight into WHY a person behaves or interacts in a certain way or holds a particular belief or attitude.
- Qualitative research is subjective, but provides understanding of the framework within which participants interpret their thoughts, feelings, and actions.
- Qualitative researchers rely on the following methods for gathering information:
- participant observation
- field notes
- reflexive journals
- structured interviews
- You may see these terms in abstracts of qualitative research articles:
- case study
- critical theory
- discourse analysis
- grounded theory
- semiotics, taxonomy
- analytic induction
- logical analysis
- content analysis
- focus group
- Primary sources are eyewitness accounts, laboratory data, or original research.
- Secondary sources are works that interpret primary sources.
- Most journal articles are secondary sources that provide analysis, interpretation, or evaluation of primary sources.
To Find Journal Articles
- On the Morris Library homepage, click on "OneSearch".
- Know a specific database/index? Use the A-Z list.
- Not sure? Check the databases grouped by discipline. Most include Academic Search Premier from EBSCO as a common starting point. EBSCO allows you to limit your search to scholarly peer-reviewed journals. Type in your key terms. Check the thesaurus for descriptors. Using their controlled vocabulary will speed your search.
- To find qualitative research, try adding the search terms "case study" or "qualitative research".
- Write down useful descriptors in Academic Search Premier.
- When searching for research articles, the following headings are often used and can be flags to help you find an original research article:
- Abstract (a description of what the study includes)
- Introduction/Literature Review (a statement of the hypothesis for the research and a review of other research on the topic)
- Methodology/Procedures/Research Design (a description of how the research was conducted, i.e. who are the participants?, what is the design of the study?, what did the participants do?, what measures were used?, etc.)
- Results/Analysis/Major Findings (this section describes the outcomes of the measures of the study)
- Summary/Conclusion/Implications/Ideas for Future Work/Discussion (this section contains interpretations and implications of the study)
- References/Works Cited (the bibliography; this will contain information on the material cited in the report or article)
- Look for articles that have been cited by other authors. Citing indicates that other researchers considered the article useful or important, even seminal.
- Write down the names of important authors.
- Go to Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com) and type in the names of your important authors. Who cited your authors? Do you see anything of interest to your own research?
- Try using ERIC. The ERIC database is a specialized index of education literature. Librarians use the OVID version and use the MULTI-FIELD SEARCH.
- Type "qualitative research" into one of the search boxes.
- Note how ERIC translates your key terms. Use of the ERIC thesaurus to expand your research vocabulary.
- Write down useful descriptor combinations in ERIC (OVID).
- Write down important authors.
- Not all important articles are available full text.
- If Morris does not own the journal, or the article is not available through the database, fill out an interlibrary loan request on the library website. It does not cost anything, but time!! Circulation will e-mail you when the article arrives.
- Other databases that contain qualitative education research reports are
- Different databases use their own controlled vocabulary for descriptors. As you switch back and forth between databases, check the thesaurus. Translating your key words into THEIR vocabulary will speed your search, and expand the results.
- Check the Dissertation Abstracts database for cutting edge research.
- The latest dissertations, theses, and research papers granted at SIUC are online full text.
- Fill out the Interlibrary Loan Form on the Morris Library homepage to request dissertations from other universities.
- This is not plagiarism. It is important to check your bibliography and instrument against the latest research. Just remember that you must cite that author!
- Keep track of your references!
- Develop a filing system for
- key word searches
- bibliographic records
- hard copies of your searches
- There are computer programs that can help.
- EndNote Web works well for some folks
- Others prefer to use Zotero from Mozilla Firefox.
- Both are free!
Education Librarian & Coordinator of First-Year Instruction