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Special Education: Getting Into the Scholarship

Digging into the Material

You have some tips and tricks and pointers over on Mapping Out Your Research. Here, we'll give you some search strings, sample searches, and more. As always, special education is a huge topic that can live under many different subject headings, disciplines, and topics--so it can be wise to cast a wide net, at least when you're first starting. 

Need more help? Want some more ideas for building better, stronger search strings? Just get in touch!

Some Search Strings

Why on earth are some of these words in quotation marks? Because we're dealing with computers! When a phrase is in quotation marks, the algorithm knows to search it as a phrase rather than as random possibly connected words. 

Many of these search strings also make sure of Boolean operators. They can serve as connective tissue in your search string, reminding the database that you want something that includes both thing A and thing B. Or maybe you want something that includes either thing A or thing B--or includes thing A but NOT thing B. Boolean operators can be tricky to use, but we're here to help. 


"Americans with disabilities act" and education

Selected Subject Headings (And Ways to Use Them)

Articles (and books) are catalogued using subject headings, which serve as tags marking what a text is about. There are a couple of different ways to search by subject headings/

  • Use subject headings as keywords: this one is pretty basic. Just copy and paste your subject heading into the search bar, make sure (depending on the database) that either "keyword" or "any field" is selected, and search away. (You can enclose the subject heading in quotation marks if you so desire, which will make the database search for the subject heading as a phrase rather than as random words.)
  • Subject is (exact) is a setting in many databases, including Central Index. This will mean that your search will find results that exactly match the subject heading you entered.
  • Subject contains is a broader search than Subject is (exact): it will retrieve anything with a subject that includes what you are searching. 

  • "Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder"
  • "People with disabilities -- services for" 
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