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EDUG 220

Growth and Development PK-12

Putting it to the test

Now that we have keywords and know how to use them, we can try searching. We will try using the ERIC database, but you can also try searching in the library catalog, a different database, or Google Scholar.

Remember when we visited to find keywords? You can also use ERIC to search for articles. Most of the research which is done on education can be found in ERIC!

A screenshot of the ERIC search box

Instead of searching the Thesaurus, this time we will search the Collections tab.


  1. Go to
  2. Make sure you have selected the blue Collection tab - you do not need to click on peer-reviewed only for this assignment, but you can check Full text available on ERIC if you would like!
  3. Copy and paste or type in your search string
  4. Click search
  5. Evaluate your results - are they relevant? Too many or too few results?
  6. Revise search as needed (see help box below)
  7. Repeat steps 3-6 as needed

The most important thing is to remember to have persistence and creativity. If your search doesn't work - that's ok! Go back to your keyword list, revise using the strategies below, and try again or ask for help.

Help: Troubleshooting strategies

If you find an article that sounds helpful, but you can't find the full text (or you are being asked to pay for the article), here are some strategies to help:

Strategy One: See if the library has access

  1. Copy the title of your article (if the title is very short, you might need to copy the author's name also)
  2. Open up OneSearch (the library catalog) and make sure you are logged in
  3. Paste the title (and/or author) into the search box and click search
  4. Locate the matching article in the results list and check for the green text that says Full text available, or the gray text that says Citation Online

If you see "Full text available":

  • Click on the article title
  • Find a link to a database under the Access Online section and click on it (there may be multiple links, just choose one)
  • You should now have the full text of the article

If you see "Citation online":

Keep the tab with OneSearch open, and proceed to Strategy Two.

Strategy Two: Check the open web

  1. Copy the title of your article (if the title is very short, you might need to copy the author's name also)
  2. Search for the title on Google or Google Scholar (adding PDF to the end of your search can also help)
  3. See if the article is posted for free online - if yes, you are done! If not, keep reading/
  4. If the article is not available, follow the steps in Strategy One to find the article citation in OneSearch.
  5. On the article page in OneSearch, click on "No full text? Request from the library/interlibrary loan"
  6. Check the details on the form, enter your personal information, and click submit request.
  7. Wait...the library will try to get the article for you and if possible, we will email it to you within 3-7 days.
Neither of these strategies work? Try finding a different article or ask a librarian for help.

If you have too many articles to weed through, you can try getting more specific. Try adding in additional words to your search, using AND.

For example, instead of:

trauma AND development 

Try something like:

trauma AND development AND elementary school students

Here, we have added information about a specific age group, and have narrowed down to look at how trauma might be linked to developmental delays.

If you need help, try looking in the ERIC thesaurus for narrower terms.

If you have too few results, you might be searching for too many keywords or too narrow keywords. Here are some things to try:

  • Remove all non-essential words
  • Reduce the number of keywords
  • Try searching broader keywords, rather than narrow (for example, "individual development"  is broader than "child development"; learning is broader than "student outcomes")


Instead of this:

trauma AND child development AND student test scores AND fifth grade students

This search yields 0 results in ERIC.

Try this:

trauma AND child development AND student achievement

This search yields 19 results - that's enough for us to hopefully find a relevant article, but not so much that we can't easily browse through without being overwhelmed.

Or, try using OR:

trauma AND child development AND (student achievement OR student outcomes)

This search yields 184 results. That's too much to read through every title, but it also increases your odds of finding something relevant.

If you results are not relevant, then you will need to adjust your keywords. Here are some things to try:

  • Remove all non-essential words
  • Check the ERIC thesaurus for synonyms or related terms, read the definition of the term to see if it is relevant, and make a list of the most relevant keywords to try searching for 
  • Try looking up your topic in Credo reference or Wikipedia. Reading a background on your topic will help you find relevant keywords - make a list and try searching them instead
  • Try searching somewhere else. Some alternatives would be the library catalog (OneSearch) or Google Scholar.
  • Ask a librarian for help - that's what we are here for (and you aren't bothering us!). We have 24/7 chat support, and you can contact us via email or phone as well.
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