Adapted from The Literature Review, Machi & McEvoy (2009, p. 13).
Getting Started: Review the tabs in this section to explore how AU Librarians and AU Library resources can help support you and your research during the literature review process.
"All research begins with curiosity" (Machi & McEvoy, 2009, p. 14)
Selection of a topic, and fully defined research interest and question, is supervised (and approved) by your professor. Tips for crafting your topic include:
What will your topic and research address?
In The Literature Review: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students, Ridley presents that literature reviews serve several purposes (2008, p. 16-17). Included are the following points:
At this point in your literature review, take time to meet with a librarian. Why? Understanding the subject terminology used in databases can be challenging. AU Librarians can help you structure a search, preparing you for step two.
Collect & Select Data: Preview, select, and organize
AU Library is your go-to resource for this step in your literature review process. The literature search will include books and ebooks, scholarly and practitioner journals, theses and dissertations, and indexes. You may also choose to include web sites, blogs, open access resources, and newspapers. This library guide provides access to resources needed to complete a literature review.
|AU Library Catalog||AU Library Catalog|
|OhioLINK Catalog||OneSearch (Library web site)|
|Search Ohio Catalog||AU Library eBook Collection|
|Interlibrary Loan Request|
Expand your journal search; a complete listing of available AU Library and OhioLINK databases is available on the Databases A to Z list. Search the database by subject, type, name, or do use the search box for a general title search. The A to Z list also includes open access resources and select internet sites.
Review the Library Databases tab on this guide, it includes Theses & Dissertation resources. AU library also has AU student authored theses and dissertations available in print, search the library catalog for these titles.
Did you know? If you are looking for particular chapters within a dissertation that is not fully available online, it is possible to submit an ILL article request. Do this instead of requesting the entire dissertation.
Consider current literature in your academic field. AU Library's database collection includes The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Wall Street Journal. The Internet Resources tab in this guide provides links to newspapers and online journals such as Inside Higher Ed, COABE Journal, and Education week.
There are three basic boolean operators: AND, OR, and NOT.
Used with your search terms, boolean operators will either expand or limit results. What purpose do they serve? They help to define the relationship between your search terms. For example, using the operator AND will combine the terms expanding the search. When searching some databases, and Google, the operator AND may be implied.
|Search results will contain all of the terms.||Search results will contain at least one of the search terms.||Search results do not contain the specified search term.|
|Search for adult learning AND online education; you will find items that contain both terms.||Search for adult learning OR online education; you will find items that contain either adult learning or online education.||Search for adult learning NOT online education: you will find items that contain adult learning but not online education.|
|AND connects terms, limits the search, and will reduce the number of results returned.||OR redefines connection of the terms, expands the search, and increases the number of results returned.
||NOT excludes results from the search term and reduces the number of results.|
|Example Search: Education Research Complete|
Adult learning AND online education: 505 results
Adult learning OR online education: 44,503 results
Adult learning NOT online education: 14,061 results
About the example: Boolean searches were conducted on November 4, 2019; result numbers may vary at a later date. No additional database limiters were set to further narrow search returns.
Database strategies for targeted search results.
Most databases include limiters, or additional parameters, you may use to strategically focus search results. EBSCO databases, such as Education Research Complete & Academic Search Complete provide options to:
Keep in mind that these tools are defined as limiters for a reason; adding them to a search will limit the number of results returned. This can be a double-edged sword. How?
Use limiters with care. When starting a search, consider opting out of limiters until the initial literature screening is complete. The second or third time through your research may be the ideal time to focus on specific time periods or material (scholarly vs newspaper).
Expanding your search term at the root.
Truncating is often referred to as 'wildcard' searching. Databases may have their own specific wildcard elements however, the most commonly used are the asterisk (*) or question mark (?). When used within your search. they will expand returned results.
Using the asterisk wildcard will return varied spellings of the truncated word. In the following example, the search term education was truncated after the letter "t."
|Original Search||Search with Asterisk|
|adult education||adult educat*|
|Search results: 27, 974||Search results: 29, 525|
|Results included: educate, education, educator, educators'/educators, educating, & educational|
Explore these database help pages for additional information on crafting search terms.
Tips for saving research directly to Google drive.
It is possible to save articles (PDF and HTML) and abstracts in EBSCOhost databases directly to Google drive. Select the Google Drive icon, authenticate using a Google account, and an EBSCO folder will be created in your account. This is a great option for managing your research. If documenting your research in a Google Doc, consider linking the information to actual articles saved in drive.
EBSCOHost Databases & Google Drive: Managing your Research
This video features an overview of how to use Google Drive with EBSCO databases to help manage your research. It presents information for connecting an active Google account to EBSCO and steps needed to provide permission for EBSCO to manage a folder in Drive.
About the Video: Closed captioning is available, select CC from the video menu. If you need to review a specific area on the video, view on YouTube and expand the video description for access to topic time stamps. A video transcript is provided below.
A definition from the Online Dictionary for Library and Information Sciences.
A literature review is "a comprehensive survey of the works published in a particular field of study or line of research, usually over a specific period of time, in the form of an in-depth, critical bibliographic essay or annotated list in which attention is drawn to the most significant works" (Reitz, 2014).
A systemic review is "a literature review focused on a specific research question, which uses explicit methods to minimize bias in the identification, appraisal, selection, and synthesis of all the high-quality evidence pertinent to the question" (Reitz, 2014).
EBSCOhost [Help page]. (n.d.). Booleans. Retrieved November 5, 2019 from https://support.ebsco.com/help/index.php?help_id=35
EBSCOhost [Help page]. (n.d.). Searching with wildcards and truncation symbols. Retrieved November 5, 2019 from https://support.ebsco.com/help/index.php?help_id=137
Machi, L.A. & McEvoy, B.T. (2009). The literature review. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press:
Reitz, J.M. (2014). Online dictionary for library and information science. ABC-CLIO, Libraries Unlimited. Retrieved from https://www.abc-clio.com/ODLIS/odlis_A.aspx
Ridley, D. (2008). The literature review: A step-by-step guide for students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.