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Summary of Recent Orientations for Graduate Students

May 29, 2012

Many graduate courses for the School of Education have research projects that are coming into focus at this point in the term. Permit me to summarize the points I have covered in recent webinars with a few links and comments below.


  • Books in the Library Catalog
  • Summon - 'Articles & more' 
    search syntax
    filtering search results
    revising keywords
  • (and alternate platforms)
  • Education Research Complete on EBSCO
  • Other tips

Books in the Library catalog:
First tab on our frontpage interface. Search it using a combination of your most important keywords linked by the word AND.
Example: keyword1 AND keyword2 
Most education books are ELECTRONIC also known as 'ebooks.'
Many are downloadable:
+ if you create an account on the platform of the ebook vendor
+ and install a plugin (for example: eBrary).
Other ebook vendors require you to maintain an active browser connection
Get hard-copy books via mail by the 'Request Item' button: The words 'Request this item' are white in a blue box

(This mailing option is available to online students only!)  

Special search tip: to retrieve only ebooks, try searching keyword1 AND keyword2 AND electronic.
To retrieve one of our many specialty encyclopedias try searching: keyword1 AND encyclopedia.

Summon aka 'Articles & More':
Default search box on library website front page
Not one database, but a discovery tool that includes the content of every literature database to which we subscribe.
Retrieves a high volume of results
Results can be refined using the left-hand-side check-box filters. 
Or work your way through this detailed  tutorial (total time to complete ~ 10 minutes.)

Summon Search Syntax Tips: If your topic is best expressed by an exact phrase, be sure to include those words within quotation marks.  For example: 'no child left behind.'

Filtering Summon Results:
Left-hand side checkbox filters helps you narrow the high results
Scholarly publications  - second and third checkboxes
'Subject Terms...more' fourth menu that gives a customized subject index to the articles your search retrieved sorted by how often these terms showed up among your articles

How to use the 'Subject Terms...more'  filter:
Click checkboxes of just one or two terms to include (ignore exclude options)
'Top of the list' approach: choose one subject term from the more frequent, top of the list that closely matches the terms in your initial keyword search. Hit continue. Repeat process.
'Bottom of the list' approach: scroll down to the bottom, less frequent subject terms, looking for any angle that you find exciting.
Reboot approach: if no subtopics seem useful, try to reconfigure your initial keyword search; try a different angle, using completely different keyword terms. (see longer example here)

Managing Summon Search Results:
Review your search results - don't read beyond the abstract yet!
Select or 'like' individual articles by clicking the icon in the upper right of each citation so a green checkmark on a yellow circle becomes visible.
Articles will remain marked for the duration of your search session - and will vanish if you close your active browser
Selected results appear in the 'My Saved Search Results' folder (lower right of the screen).
Results folder enables:
links to full text
converting citations to APA or MLA format
emailing yourself
exporting citations to EndNote or other citation management service

Too few results? Try the checkbox option near the top right of the results screen to 'Expand results beyond Drexel's collection.' This will yield citations for articles we *do not* have in full text, but can most likely be obtained through Inter Library Loan.   (Educational Research Infrmation Clearinghouse) -the education repository from the U.S. Department of Education is indispensable, containing abstracts of published scholarly articles and full text of self-published reports.

The ERIC logo is a tree sprouting from a book next to the letters E R I C

The ERIC Thesaurus can provide marvelous insight into the industry-insider terminology used to describe your research area, using what ERIC calls 'descriptors.' Using descriptors is a POWERFUL way to search, because these terms are 'official terminology' and are applied to an article only if that article is SIGNIFICANTLY about that topic.
First step: Focus on identifying the correct descriptors, and then use them in your search to avoid articles with random or insignificant mentions of your search terms. 
Example: Search the thesaurus to determine which terms are approved 'educational technology' or 'technology in education'
Interface tip: ERIC Thesaurus searched via same search box just with the alternate (green) tab

The ERIC Logo is a tree sprouting from an open book next to the letters E R I C. The logo is above a search box from the group's website

Tip for getting full-text: Copy/paste just the article titles you found on ERIC into the Summon searchbox back on the Drexel Libraries website

ERIC Alternate Platforms:
ERIC is also available via the Proquest vendor platform as well as the EBSCO vendor platform if you prefer these. Despite the adequate vendor interfaces, I still recommend the public for its user-friendly presentation and easily accessible thesaurus.

Education Research Complete - on EBSCO
Most full-text found in Summon will link back to the 'Education Research Complete' database on the EBSCO platform.
Cross-searchable with ERIC found on same platform
Least favorite interface from a user experience perspective.
Good to use when conducting a search on a platform that holds only education content
Faculty may specifically assign you to use this database

How to find the 'Education Research Complete' database on the Drexel Libraries website:
1. Choose Databases A-Z

  • alphabetic lookup for 'E'  and find the name alphabetically
  • "View all subjects” - see the category for Education, then pick from that list

Drop down menu with education circled in red

2. The other way to find the Education Research Complete database title is using the 'Library Guides' tab, and picking it from the lineup of recommended resources.

letters of the Alphabet with 'e' circled
And here is the EBSCO search interface, once in the database.

Put quotes around key phrases
Use thesaurus for verifying jargon
Use the advanced search option and place keywords in different boxes

Screenshot of EBSCO searchdatabase screen 

And here's what the search results looks like on the EBSCO search interface. Click on the "view results" link that shows how many articles have been retrieved:

EBSCO search box
Other tips:

For hard to find books, consider Worldcat - Consolidated searching of all North American library book catalogs. Set up a personal account that will save your zip code and show holdings for books you want in nearby libraries. The worldcat website interacts with and
To use Google efficiently, follow the 'gear' icon to adjust your settings on and have them point at full-text on Drexel. Alse adjust other setting to have results download to EndNote - but be forewarned that due to a glitch the downloaded citation may not include the full abstract as it would if you downloaded instead from Summon.

I may have also mentioned:

APA PsycTESTS - for survey and assessment instruments
Proquest Dissertations and Theses - for full text of dissertations and theses
Web of Science - for quickly identifying the most highly cited papers on your topic

That's the bulk of what we covered!     


Email with questions on any of this: siftar at drexel dot edu


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