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Special Education: Mapping Out Your Research

Mapping Out Your Research Plans

Searches are things that you build, and they'll look different depending upon your research needs at the moment. The strategy that was fantastic for one topic might not be so great for another. Subject headings might work well for some things and not so well for others.

Special education is a facet of education--and it can encompass a whole lot more, from health and science to psychology and the arts.

There will be times when you want to cast your net as wide as possible, and other times when you'll want to keep it narrow.

Need help? You can always reach out!

Some Words You'll Need To Know

Need a glossary for some of these words? Start here!

  • Grey literature is generally not published, or at least not published by traditional academic or popular presses. It can include things ranging from newsletters and white papers to reports and government documents. Curious? Check out this definition from Dictionary of Industrial Terms and this one from The Encyclopedia of Ecology and Environmental Management, Blackwell Science, both available in CREDO.
  • Peer reviewed material has been read, prior to publication, by three or more other scholars in the same field as the article. Curious about types of writing, include peer review? Check out our page!
  • Subject headings are the classification tags assigned to a particular article or book. We'll talk more about them over on Getting Into the Scholarship.

Different Databases

You'll check out different databases depending upon your research needs! Some of them are specifically designed for education; others are more general, or explore different areas. It's generally worth checking out more than one database to make sure you're getting as complete a picture of the material out there as possible.

  • The general Education guide has information on databases. 
  • Education Resource Complete is a comprehensive education database that includes scholarly material, studies, case studies, and much more. 
  • ERIC includes material funded or produced by the U.S. Department of Education and statewide educational departments, scholarly materials, and other "grey literature." It includes full-text material as well as indexed articles.
  • Academic Search Complete contains a broad overview of many topics, ranging from education to the hard sciences. 
  • Central Index searches across many of our databases and draws information from multidisciplinary sources. It can be a great tool, but you'll want to check out other databases as well. Want to search books? The book catalog looks a lot like Central Index.

Subject Headings (And How to Use Them)

These are subject headings; many work in both our databases and our library catalog. Just copy them, paste them into the database of your choice, and get started searching!

Not quite sure how to go about it? You can search these phrases as either keywords or subjects.

You can also tweak the way you search while still using subject headings: instead of choosing "exact," for example, you can choose subject heading contains, which means that any subject heading that includes the words in your chosen subject heading will be included. This will open up your search, giving you a whole lot more results. 

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