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EDUC 8640 Module 3 Assignment: Module 3 Assignment

Search for your initiative

For this assignment you'll need to find at least 4 resources in the Walden Library related to your initiative.

The boxes below will help you build a search in the Library's databases.

What are Professional Journals?

Professional journals—also known as trade journals—are written for a practitioner audience (as opposed to an audience of other researchers). These journals are typically written by people who are active in the field as practitioners or who are academic experts.

Professional journals will include research results, best practices articles, and discussions of major policy changes. Basically, if the information is of interest to a professional educator, a professional journal may include it.

These journals may or may not use peer review.

Learn more about professional trade journals.

Find peer-reviewed articles in the Walden Library

Select Keywords for the Search

You'll start the library search process by building a list of keywords based on your topic.


Keywords need to match the words that authors have used when writing articles on that topic. You'll want to pick words that you would expect to see in an article's title or abstract. This will help you get the most relevant articles at the top of your results list.


Here is an example of a topic and possible keywords:


Topic: How does limited access to technology affect the success of low-income students?

technology student success low income  
computers student achievement poverty  
internet academic achievement poor  
digital divide      



Focus on the main concepts, avoiding words that are vague or implied. For example, using a general term like "affect" can greatly limit your results. First, an author may only use words for a single, specific effect (e.g. technology use raises student achievement). Second, there are many alternative phrasings that can look at the effects of something (e.g. impact, result, consequence, etc.), and it's unlikely you'll be able to brainstorm them all. You'll get better results if you brainstorm specific effects (e.g. academic achievement) instead of using "affect/effect" as a keyword.

Search in a Library Database

The next step is to use your keywords to build a search within a library database. While each database has a unique collection, and may look slightly different, these general steps will work in every library database.

Below is an example search using the keywords provided in the box above.

1.  From the library website, look for the Subject Resources box and click on the Select a subject drop-down:

2.  Click the Education option.  Now you will see the Education Research page. This page has links to the databases used most often for Education research.

3.  Select a database. This search example uses ERIC, one of our Education subject databases. Scroll down to the Education Databases box.  Click the ERIC link.  You may need to log in with your myWalden user name and password.

NOTE: There are many databases you can use for this assignment. You may want to try more than one database, since each database has a different collection of articles.

See the bottom of this box for a list of relevant databases, and more information about each one.


4.  Type your keywords into the search boxes. Place keywords for a single concept into one box, using "or" between each one. This tells the database to find articles that have any of those terms.

     For example, first search box:  

      digital divide or technology or internet

     Second search box:  

academic achievement or student achievement or student success

     Third search box:

poverty or poor or low income


Learn more about "or" and other Boolean operators.

5.  Add limits to your search. The limits you choose will depend on what you need to find. Check the Scholarly Peer-Reviewed box, if the database you are using includes the option. You can also add a date limit.

Learn more about database limiters

Learn more about peer review


Click to see a larger image of this search page.

6.  Click the Search button. See if the articles are relevant by reading titles and abstracts.

7.  Refine your search if you need to improve your results.

One way to refine a search is to explore the Subjects (available in ERIC and Education Source) for alternative keywords. Subjects are the official, preferred terms for concepts within a database. If you search using these terms, you will find more precise results. They can also give you ideas for aspects you haven't considered.

Article information with these subject terms highlighted: access to computers, disadvantaged, socioeconomic status, and achievement gap.

Add these terms to your search or use them instead of your original keywords.

Learn more about using subject terms.

Education Databases