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EDUC 7010 Module 4 Project: Module 4 Project

Module 4 Project Description

For this assignment you will need to find specific types of resources and then provide a citation, synopsis, and explanation of credibility for each one.

In this guide you will find information about the following:

  • Find peer-reviewed articles in the Walden Library
  • Identify a classic article
  • Primary vs. secondary sources
  • Evaluate sources for credibility
  • Create APA citations

Find a peer-reviewed article 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 buttonSee 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

Identify a classic article

Classic works are ones that have had a major impact in a field of study.

As you go through your program, you will become familiar with classic works because they will be mentioned frequently in textbooks, research articles, and other resources.

It is more difficult to identify classic articles as a new student.  Here are some hallmarks of classic works:

  • Frequently cited by other authors.
  • Written by major theorists or researchers.
  • Often called influential, seminal, or groundbreaking in literature reviews.

To find classic works, you can try the three following strategies:

Look at the number of times the article has been cited.

Google Scholar is a useful tool for this type of search.

Search for articles that are at least 10 years old.  Then look for a number next to "Cited By." This tells you how many times it has been cited in other books and articles.

Cited by information in Google Scholar

There is no specific number of times an article needs to be cited to be "classic." It depends on the age and popularity of the topic. Look for items that are cited more often than your other results of similar age.

Learn how to link Google Scholar to the Walden Library.


Look for articles and books written by major theorists.

You can find the names of major theorists listed in textbooks, encyclopedias, and informational websites.  The Walden Library has a collection of encyclopedias you can search.  The Further Readings area often lists major works on the topic. For more information see our Theories and Theorist guide.

Once you've identified the name of a theorist, you can search for articles by that theorist. You can do this by searching for the name and changing the dropdown to Author. A good database for this search is Education Source.


Look for articles that are frequently referenced in the literature you have on your topic. 

Read through the bibliography and the literature review sections of several related articles to see if they cite the same sources, or mention specific sources as being influential.

Below is an excerpt from a literature review. It explicitly mentions a theorist and his classic work on the topic.

Literature review text that mentions the title of a major work in the field

Helpful Links

Primary versus secondary sources

Primary Source is any material where the author presents his or her own research, theory, ideas, or experience.

Secondary Source analyzes and discusses primary sources.

NOTE: you must look at a source to tell if it's primary or secondary. 

Some primary sources will include secondary source material, such as the literature review portion of a research article. 

Evaluate resources for credibility

The Learning Resources area of Module 4 has several resources that cover resource evaluation and credibility. You can also supplement those resources with the following:

Create APA citations

The final step of the assignment is to create the bibliography and write your synopses of the articles.

APA Citations

All citations will need to be created using the rules in the APA's 6th edition manual. Here are some resources that can help you create/edit your citations:


You can use Zotero to collect citation information and create the bibliography. Zotero is a free tool you can download from the Internet. It's not perfect, so you'll need to edit all citations created by it, but it can still save you time and keep you organized.

Zotero's website

Zotero Guide from the Walden Library


Writing Your Synopses

The following resources may help you with the writing portion of your assignment:

Module 4 Required Library Videos

The following videos are required media for Module 4 Assignments.