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EDSE 692 Seminar in Special Education: Home

Guidance for finding literature for your thesis project.

Welcome Qualitative Researchers!

This research guide will provide tips and tricks to help you collect literature (mainly articles) on the special education topic of your choice, for your thesis / literature review.

Topics covered in this guide include:

Education Databases to search

ILLiad Interlibrary Loan

Gathering your articles

Types of articles

Using Google Scholar

Set up your Google Scholar preferences

Search Google Scholar



Tutorials on APA style and paraphrasing

APA style examples

Style guide

Education Databases to Search

ILLiad Interlibrary Loan

Create an ILLiad account to order articles and books not available through Egan Library databases.


*Note to e-Learning students - ILLiad is how you can order most materials to be delivered to you.  Articles will be in electronic format.



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Gathering your articles

In order to retrieve the full spectrum of articles that are being written on your topic and understand it more fully you will need to develop a search strategy. 

It takes a little bit of time and "pre- search" before your research but it is helpful if you can brainstorm your search terms.  In this type of research, the words you use as your search terms is crucial to the results you gather. 

Types of articles

When conducting database searches in education, there are (generally) 5 main types of articles you will come across:


1. Empirical Research study

This is an article that describes the research that the author conducted on the topic.  You will know it is an empirical study you are reading if it includes a Methods and Results section.  Most empirical studies will also refer to the paper itself as a "study" usually in the abstract.

2. Literature Review

Some articles are all about reviewing the work of other authors on a topic.  This type of article can be valuable for understanding the history or scholarly dialogue on an issue.

3. Theoretical Work

Some articles describe a theoretical viewpoint, for example feminist theory, constructivist theory, or other) and discuss a topic through the lens of the theory, citing other sources into the discussion.

4. Opinion Pieces

Some articles are based on the opinion or classroom practices of the author without any supporting citations of theory or research).

5. Guides

"Guides recommend specific strategies and/or explain how practitioners might implement particular curricula, programs, or models" (Duke & Ward, 2009). 

Duke, T. S., & Ward, J. D. (2009). Preparing information literate teachers: A metasynthesis. Library & Information Science Research, 31(4), 247-256.