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Morris Library

EAHE 594: Advanced Qualitative Research: Home

Literature Review Tools

Searching Practice Activity

Find two resources appropriate for a literature review from your assigned research tool. 

  1. Reference tool - find definitions of terms or other background information normally from secondary sources
  2. ERIC (EBSCO) - find one journal article and one ERIC document (EDxxxxxxx in Accession Number field)
  3. Dissertations and Theses - find two dissertations
  4. Specialized database - PsycINFO or a database for another discipline
  5. Google Scholar - find two highly "Cited by..." articles
  6. Books (Morris Library catalog) - find a book currently available in Morris Library and another book that is available through I-Share, but not in Morris Library; must be available to check out

In selecting the citations your team of two will present to the class, consider the scholarly nature of the source including:

  • Credibility
  • Accuracy
  • Reasonableness
  • Support

Harris, R. (2010, November 22). Evaluating Internet research sources. Retrieved from:

Also consider and be prepared to present to the class:

  1. The step-by-step process by which you found your resource.
  2. Any prominent search features you would like to highlight or challenges you faced.
  3. The benefit of this research tool when compiling your resources.

Refining Your Topic

To find scholarly materials on your topic, you will need to understand the thesauri for the different databases you will be searching. You will also need to develop a list of terms and keywords that you use to search databases looking for new materials to add to your literature review.

Let's begin with a sample topic:  

Safety policies in K-12 schools, specifically relating  to weapons

What are the concepts represented in this topic?



K-12 schools


What are some synonyms that might be used in books, articles, presentations, dissertations, and reports that address each of the facets of this research topic?             



K-12 schools






toy gun*

educational polic*

public school*

school safety


zero tolerance policy

middle school*

child safety


 school polic*

secondary school*



 discipline polic*

elementary school*

school security



high school*

Use the Thesaurus of each database to identify the appropriate "controlled vocabulary" for that database. Add these terms to your list. Try searching with different combinations of terms.

When you find a relevant source, examine the subject descriptors or terms that have been applied to that source. Add any new terms you find to your list. Use the terms to search by keyword in the databases, on the web, and elsewhere to identify new materials. Always review the references on each relevant item to identify other materials you should obtain.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar and Morris Library

1.  To Access Morris Library sources, click on Scholar Preferences.
2.  In Library Links, type in Southern Illinois University Carbonale.
3.  Select the box next to Find Full Text at Morris.
4.  When you find a resource in Google Scholar, don't try to access it with the title!!!!  Click on the Find Full Text @ Morris link.

Peer-reviewed Journals and Review Articles

Peer-Reviewed Journals employ an editorial board, editor, and system of academic reviewers who assess the quality of the research and contribution to the discipline of submitted articles and recommend to the editor whether the article should be accepted/published as is, returned for minor revisions, or rejected. Rejections might include recommendations of other journals for which the article might be a better fit. Normally, the system is double-blind -the author does not know the identify of the reviewer and the reviewer does not know the identity of the author.

Educational Researcher is an example of a peer-reveiwed journal in the field of education. You can determine if a journal is peer-reviewed by examining an issue of the journal or the website for the publisher. Peer-reviewed journals have an editor, an editorial board of academics from major university, author instructions, criteria for selection, description of the scope of the journal, and other indications that the process of identifying which articles will be published is based on fairness and quality. The highest quality journals have high impact factors in Thomson-Reuters' Journal Citation Reports, Scopus, and other comparative tools.

Chronicle of Higher Education is an example of a secondary or trade journal that is important in higher education as a source of current information on topics of interest to the field.

Journals contain a variety of types of articles including original research, opinion, editorial, discussion, meta-analysis, and review articles.

Several journals in the field of education contain review articles:

  • Review of Educational Research - meta-analyses; systematic literature reviews; online access to issues from 1931-present, physical holdings from 1930-2009.
  • Review of Research in Education -  A periodical volume that provides an overview and analysis of selected areas of relevant research through critical and synthesizing essays. Each volume is designed around a particular subject; online access to volumes from 1973-2018, some print holdings.

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