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Education - Higher Degrees and Research

Find information you need to develop high level research skills for undertaking research in the field of education, including Master of Teaching Practice, Master by Research and PHD levels.

Develop a search strategy

When you are beginning to search for information it is important to develop a search strategy that will assist you to locate relevant information. This involves identifying the key concepts in your topic, creating a list of alternative terms to search, using techniques like "truncation" to allow variant terms, and employing "boolean operators" to formulate search expressions.

When you get to the searching stage you will find that it is common for an initial search to result in too few or too many references. The information on this page will help you in broadening or narrowing your search.

If you have too many results be more specific about the type of information you want by using AND to add another search term. If you have have too few results you can use OR or trunction to allow for more possibilities.

You will need to think about your research topic and identify the key concepts.

EXAMPLE


 How does disadvantage impact the learning of Aboriginal students

Searching for information will often involve searching different combinations of terms. It is useful at this stage to identify alternative terms for the key concepts you have identified.

When doing this consider:

Alternative terminology: Primary education/elementary education
Alternative spelling: labor/labour; behavior/behaviour
Plurals/alternative endings:teacher/teachers; learner/learning
Acronyms and abbreviations: ICT/information and communication technologies
Alternative meanings: web, mouse

EXAMPLE

 CONCEPT ONE   CONCEPT TWO   CONCEPT THREE
 disadvantage  learning  aboriginal students
 inequality  education  indigenous students 
 inequity  
 

To narrow your search or make it more specific, you can keep words together when searching by "phrasing" them.  

EXAMPLE

"indigenous education" or "student centred learning"

It's also useful for keeping the words in a title together when searching.

e.g. "Advance Australia Fair"

 

To broaden your search you may wish to substitute variant endings on a term with an asterisk: *. This will allow you to retrieve all the terms beginning with the specified word stem.

EXAMPLE


 aborigin* = aborigine, aborigines, aboriginal 
 learn* = learn, learns, learning, learner 

 

Unlike Google, most databases require you to connect keywords or phrases with "boolean operators". The boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT can be used to broaden and narrow your search. You should always place AND, OR, NOT in capitals - that way they won't be actually searched on as words.

 

Example Topic:  Distance education is one way of addressing disadvantage in educational opportunities in remote Australia, particularly for Aboriginal students.

AND: finds records that contains all the words specified.

EXAMPLE: online learning AND distance education retrieves all the records that contain both online learning and distance education

OR: finds records that contain either or both of the words specified.

EXAMPLE: online learning OR distance education retrieves records that contain either online learning or distance education.

NOT: finds records with the first of the two terms but not the second.

EXAMPLE: online learning NOT distance education retrieves records with online learning, but excludes those records containing distance education.

EXAMPLE

 
 ("online learning" OR "distance education" AND "disadvantage OR inequity* AND "aboriginal students" AND

 remote NOT urban Australia AND education) 
 

 

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