Tools for Learning Searching Literature Paula Nottingham updated 22/2/13Jim Dine, 1962, MoMa
Searching LiteraturePart of the professional inquiry involves learning theskills to investigate topics that you are interested in foryour inquiry.For this module you are choosing three pieces ofliterature and analysing them for there content.You are also trying out the four practitioner inquirytools: observations, surveys, interviews and focusgroups
What is a review of literature?“The selection of available documents (both publishedand unpublished) on the topic, which containinformation, ideas, data and evidence written from aparticular standpoint to fulfil certain aims or expresscertain views on the nature of the topic and how it is tobe investigated, and the effective evaluation of thesedocuments in relation to the research being proposed”(p.13).Hart, C. (1998) Doing a Literature Review, London:Sage Publications.
Reviewing Literature – making choices Searching for work-place, community of practice or disciplinary content about your topic – what is the inquiry about? Thinking about the levels of criticality of these sources ex. academic research or professional sources – where is the knowledge coming from? Seeing what concepts or theories (abstract ideas) relate to your practice as a creative professional (theorising your experience in the workplace)Ideas can come from those introduced as samples in the module e.g.professional practice (Eraut), Communities of Practice (Wenger),Experiential Learning (Kolb) OR theories that you learned within thediscipline (dance, acting , graphic design). It is your job to relate thisliterature of theory and practice to what you do.
Data SourcesThinking about the topic and searching for sources to find out about it:What are data sources?What am I interested in? Where is it ‘located’ and therefore from which potential sources can I generate knowledge of it? What do I expect these sources to be able tell me? (Mason, 2002)Large scale studies, mapping documents from the industry or government sources, policy documents in education, people, organisations, texts, events – think about issues of access
Reading Literature for contentUse critical thinking when reading literature“Critical thinking calls for a persistent effort to examine any beliefor supposed form of knowledge in the light of the evidence thatsupports it and the further conclusions to which it tends” (Glaser1941, found in Fisher 2001)You will be looking for academic arguments that recognise thevarious points of view. You can then develop your interpretation ofwhat is happening that is ‘backed up’ by these experts orprofessionals in the field – it is discovering the ‘why’ questions aswell as developing your knowledge and understandingActivity: capturing the author’s position (Cottrell, Critical ThinkingSkills, 2005) Read Passage 3.4 see if you can ‘get’ the argument…
Passage 3.4 (Cottrell, 2005)It was initially believed that young children could not understandother people’s points of view or undertake tasks such as countingand measuring until they were as least seven years of age.However, it seems the problem does not lie in children’s capacity todo these things so much as in their understanding of what is beingasked and why. If there is no obvious purpose, or they do notunderstand the language used, children find tasks difficult.Even young children can perform tasks formerly considered tooadvanced for them, as long as these are set up in ways that makesense to them. Problems that involve teddies or drinks, forexample, may be meaningful to a very young child, whereas taskswith counters and beakers are not.
Good Academic Practice: Effective WritingThe use of citation for words and images – any ideas that arequoted or paraphrased – you must reference these in aBibliography, review university guidelines on copyright – useHarvard referencing – WORDS and PICTURESKeeping annotations of literature throughout the process ishelpful (writing/drafting notes while reading to refer to later) forevaluating the literature – you may want to type these out on thecomputer so they will be easier to use later on in your inquiryMaking notes throughout the process about key academicarguments in your sector, discipline, field (e.g. the debate aboutthe use of phonics in learning to read)
Sticking to your topic searchWatch out not to wander too far away from your topic – try to focus on the articles that have the most relevance.Try to be more specific in your search terms – then you will find full-text articles you can download.You may find you cannot download some articles because the university library does not have these electronic sources, make a note of the citation and see if you can get it somewhere else or find something similar that you can use.
Searching on Google – gives you some interesting ‘big picture’ ideas but caninclude lots of unwanted commercial and erroneous sources
Google Scholar limits the search to more academic or professional sources. Itsometimes leads your to publisher’s websites that want tot sell you articles.Copy the name of the journal or book and see if it is available at the Middlesexlibrary wither in book or journal form.... These are free to use as a student.
Visually scan what is on offer from the google search BUT go past the first pagebecause Google decides for you and you want to decide on the choices yourselfchoose a likely source.
Make a decision about how this will give you information about your topic.
Download the source and read it. Many of these articles will talk aboutresearch or studies that people have done about their topics… so you needto make some judgments about how this relates to what you are doing.
You can access the Middlesex University resources online using your IT usernumber and password from the MyUnihub site.
You can go to My Library and use Summon or the Library Subject Guides to helpyour search.
On Summon you can tick boxes about the type of literature…
Boolean OperatorsGoogle and Google Scholar do not use these added words forsearches – but they are sometimes used within databases and can cutdown search time using electronic searches with databases. Basic search techniques (Middlesex Website) * or ? allows you to shorten a word but pick up it’s variant endings in a search e.g. account* will pick up account, accountant and accounting AND, NOT and OR join or exclude keywords “phrase” – putting a phrase in speech marks means that it will be searched in exactly the way that it is entered (bracketed keywords) allow you to perform quite sophisticated levels of searches