Higher Education: A Research Guide

Why Search in a Database?

Searching for articles in the library's databases enable you to a search on a large collection of titles of peer-reviewed journals, reports and other articles on your topics  rather than searching one title at a time.  Searches may be limited to a specific student  types or faculty populations and limited to specific years.  The results are often displaced first as "relevant" results, based on algorithms of the specific database.  You can change the displayed order to the oldest first, which you can follow the history of a topic over time, or the most recent first, which shows you the most recently published articles.

Sometimes, there is a special issue of a journal on a specific topic and  these may be very helpful.  For example, a recent  issue of Futures, available through the Science Direct database, is devoted to the future of higher education.

Many of the databases enable alerts to be set up.  You can have your searches automatically run in the database either daily, weekly or monthly for specific time periods.  Results will be sent to you by email.  This is a great way to learn of recently published articles and the most recent issues of journals.

Suggested databases are noted below.

Searching Databases

Many databases require you to use quotation marks to search for a phrase.

Some databases have pre-determined subject categories on education, education policies, and education reform that may be searched.  For other databases, you enter keywords, the words or phrases you want to search.

Keyword serches may also be built by using the connectors And, Or or Not.

Search results may be narrowed by the time period searched, and also by fields (parts of the article or report) searched, such as title or headline, author or publication name.

And narrows your search results to the words or phrases must be found in all articles or reports: "higher education" and "federal assistance"

Or broadens your search results as any word or phrase is retrieved: "first generation" or "first in family to attend college"  or "first in family to a earn college degree" 

Not narrows your results as it will exclude from all results any mention of the word or phrase you search with "not".  Not searches should be used cautiously in initial searches as you might omit some helpful articles.  For example, a search for tuition not private, would eliminate all articles mentioning private tuition, which would likely make some references to public tuition. If the article mentioned both public and private tuition, the article would be eliminated from search results.

Other Databases You May Want to Consider

Higher education and its many aspects and people involved in its history and development  is an interdisciplinary topic. Public affairs, psychology databases and databases focusing on specific groups are among those databases that may also be helpful for your research.  The following are also available through Databases by Subject on the Newman Library homepage: