Education Research Guide


Why use a research guide?
This research guide has been developed by BYU Librarians to save you time and help you produce a better research paper. It will inform you of the best print and electronic resources for your topic. If you need assistance at any point, please ask for help at the Social Science/Education Reference Desk, Level 1.

*If you are not affiliated with BYU, you may not have full access to some of the electronic resources discussed.

A. Getting Started

1. Select Your Topic
2. Locate Background Information
3. Identify Terminology
4. Focus the Topic and Form an Issue Question
5. Organize Your Topic into Concepts

B. Finding Research Materials

1. Books
2. Journal Articles
3. Internet Resources
4. Additional Resources

C. Evaluating Resources

D. Citing Resources

 



A. Getting Started

1. Select Your Topic Select a topic that you wish to research. Starting with a broad subject is fine. As you do some initial investigation you can narrow it to a subtopic. The object is to find enough good material to write and discuss your topic intelligently. The index of a specialized encyclopedia is a good place to look for topics in your area (see next step).

2. Locate Background Information
Spending some time using specialized encyclopedias and handbooks can help you understand your topic, its terminology and its subtopics. These sources also provide important bibliographies that will be valuable as you proceed.

The following are some important encyclopedic sources in Education. Browsing the reference shelves is a good way of finding other similar resources. You can also see an expanded list at Education Reference Books.
1. International Encyclopedia of Education (Social Science Ref LB 15 .I569 1994)
2. Encyclopedia of Educational Research (Social Science Ref LB 15 .E48)
3. International Encyclopedia of Teaching and Teacher Education, (Social Sci Ref LB 1025.3 .I58 1995)
4. Encyclopedia of Special Education (Social Science Ref LC 4007 .E53 2000)
5. Encyclopedia of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education (Social Science Ref LC 3707 .E53 1997)

Here are some topical handbooks. They can be extremely helpful as you begin your research. Browsing the shelves is helpful here too. For an expanded list see Education Reference Sources.
1. Handbook of Research on The Education of Young Children (Soc Sci Ref LB 1119 .H25 1993)
2. Handbook of Academic Learning: Construction of Knowledge (Social Science Ref LB 1060 .H3456 1997)
3. Handbook of School Psychology (Social Science Ref LB 1051 .H2356 1998)
4. Literacy: An International Handbook (Social Science Ref LC 149 .L4956 1999)

3. Identify Terminology
When researching a topic, it is important to use correct terms. As you look through the specialized encyclopedias, you will be encountering the terminology used in the discipline. As you search in BYU's Library Catalog, you will be encountering official Library of Congress Subject Headings (See Books, under "Finding Research Materials"). These can be useful as you search for more material. ERIC, The Education Resources Information Center, has produced a Thesaurus of Descriptors(terms) that is available at the Social Science Reference Desk and in the ERIC database (See Journal Articles, under "Finding Research Materials").

4. Focus Your Topic and Form an Issue Question
After you have spent some time studying your topic in the sources cited above, you should be aware the various issues and sub-divisions of your topic. This allows you to narrow your scope by forming an "issue question" which you can research.

For example: "Do inclusive schools better serve the needs of the handicapped students?"

5. Organize Your Topic into Concepts
Organizing the terms you have discovered as illustrated below can help you focus your topic and retrieve articles when you are searching in on-line databases.
Using our previous example: "Do inclusive schools better serve the needs of the handicapped students?"
We can adjust our terms and add other relevant concepts which are represented by individual boxes:

 
 
 Concept 1
 
Concept 2
 
Concept 3
 Inclusive Schools
OR
Mainstreaming
 AND
 Mild Mental Retardation
OR
Physical Disabilities
OR
Exceptional Children
 AND
 Elementary Education

When performing a "keyword" search, you should use the word "OR" between similar terms and the word "AND" between concepts.

B. Finding Research Materials

 
1. Books
With over two million volumes in the Lee Library, there is a good chance that you will find books containing information on your topic. When searching the library catalog:
* Use the terms from your concept box as keywords, and link them with AND or NOT.
* Truncate terms that may have variants, with $ (for multiple characters) or ? (for single character).
* If using more than one term, nest the terms using parentheses.
For example: (Inclusive Schools OR Mainstreaming) AND (Physical Disabilities OR Exceptional Children)
You might want to start with a more general search before introducing new concepts when searching the Library Catalog. Note the difference between subject and keyword searches! Keyword searches are more flexible and come from any field in the record (title, author, subject heading, notes, publisher, etc.) You may want to start with keywords, look at the subject headings found in the records, and then click on the subject heading link to get a more specific group of materials with that subject heading. Many of these subject headings are official Library of Congress Subject Headings and will coincide with terminology you may have already discovered.

Some of the general subject headings that may be useful when looking for educational research include:

Classroom Management Curriculum Planning
Education -- Aims and Objectives Education -- Women -- United States
Educational Law and Legislation Higher Education
Mathematics -- Study and Teaching Multicultural Education
Reading Science -- Study and Teaching
Special Education Vocational Education

To learn more about finding materials in the Library you can read "How to Locate Library Materials."

2. Journal Articles
Periodical indexes give the researcher an opportunity to find articles published in magazines/journals. They can be searched in much the same manner as has been previously discussed. The indexes or databases that contain citations for articles in education have been assembled under the Article Indexes tab on the Library's home page. From this point, select Education from the Specific Subjects box. From this menu, you will have a number of indexes to choose from. Click on the More Resources link to find more resources regarding education.

Databases have changed over time. Many now include full text articles that you can print or download. However, the majority of references you retrieve will still be citations to an article. For that reason, it is important that you either copy or print the full bibliographic reference so you can find the journal that contains the article. You can find out if BYU has the journal by doing a Search for Journals on the BYU Library Catalog. If BYU does not have the journal you want, you can order the article through Interlibrary Loan.

3. Internet Resources
There are literally hundreds of education sites on the web. Finding good quality information can be problematic when searching a typical web search engine. One possible strategy is to search through a "megasite" or "portal site." These are sites that pull together links from many sites throughout the web. Some of these are listed on the Education menu discussed above. A more complete listing is available on our Web Resources page.

4. Additional Resources
There may be additional resources that could be used to expand your research.

a. Subject Bibliographies: These sources may contain many references. An example of an Education bibliography is Education: A Guide to Reference and Information Sources (Social Science Ref LB 15 .X1 047 2000)

b. Citation Indexes: Additional material can be found by looking for who has cited the articles and books you consider of value. For Education you can use the Social Science Citation Index - (Social Science Reference Area). This can also be searched online through CARS. (see next item)

c. Library Assisted Research Service: search multiple databases simultaneously, some of which are not available to the library patron.

C. Evaluating Resources

Researchers are often required to use "scholarly" or "peer reviewed" journals. These have a higher editorial or selection standard than "popular" journals. The Internet offers amazing access to volumes of information. However, it is almost as easy to "publish" on the web as it is to access information. For this reason it is important to evaluate your information before you use it. For a good discussion of this important topic see "Evaluate, Select, and Cite Research Materials."

D. Citing Resources

Cite your resources using the writing style manual recommended by your instructor. The following style manuals can be found at various reference desks:

Gibaldi, Joseph.
MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing.
2nd ed. New York : Modern Language Association of America, 1998.
PN 147 .G444 1998

Turabian, Kate L.
A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.
6th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
LB 2369 .T8 1996

Troyka, Lynn Quitman.
Simon & Schuster Handbook for Writers.
4th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Prentice Hall, c1996.
PE 1408 .T696 1996

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
4th ed. Washington, DC : American Psychological Association, 1994.
BF 76.7 .P82 1994

The Chicago Manual of Style.
14th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
Z 253 .U69 1993

Online versions of these manuals are available at the Library Home Page from the e-Reference Collection under Style Manuals.


If you need further assistance with your research you may email or call Tom Wright, the Education Subject Specialist at 378-6230.