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| University Libraries
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Special Education Research

Resources related to special education.

Not getting the results you expect?

Are you having trouble getting good search results?  Try some of these suggestions:

Write Out Acronyms

  • Instead of ADHD use Attention Deficit Disorders or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Instead of ESL use English Second Language

Think of Synonyms for Your Keywords

  • Instead of mainstreaming try:  inclusion, inclusive schools, etc.
  • Try using some of the suggested search terms that you see in your search results.  For example, in PsycINFO and ERIC, after you see your search results look in the left margin and click Subject.  You'll see a list of suggested search terms.

Consider Multiple Spellings and Word Forms

  • Instead of disabled try disabilities, disability, disable

Enter in Different Keyword Combinations

  • Keep a list of the keywords you tried:  What works, what doesn't work, which database gave you the best results, etc.

Use the Database Thesaurus

  • This is especially useful when you are struggling to come up with the "right" keywords OR when the search results do not match your topic
  • Consult the thesaurus that's associated with the library database you are searching.  Both PsycINFO and ERIC have excellent thesauri.
  • Using vocabulary from a database thesaurus will help you to get more accurate search results and can help to resolve problems that come up when a search term has more than one meaning.  For example: You are looking for articles about grades.  But the word grade has many meanings
  1. grades -- academic achievement, grade point average, grading
  2. grades -- instructional program divisions, grade 1, kindergarten, middle school, etc.

Using Keywords versus the Thesaurus

  • Searching by keyword retrieves results that only match the terms you entered
  • Searching by a thesaurus word (or descriptor or subject term) retrieves results that are indexed to match the standardized thesaurus word.  The thesaurus terms are used to label articles by subject.  Using terminology from the database thesaurus will also retrieve related entries--where the author used a different term but the indexers matched the author's vocabulary to the thesaurus term.