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EDU 225: Human Development & Learning: Home

Education Resources

Background Research Resources

The following are print and online background resources available at Jenks Library. We have many more encyclopedias and dictionary available online and in print in the Reference Room, but these are a few to get you started!

Getting Started

The building block of a library database search is keywords. Keywords are central ideas or terms within your research question or problem. For example, if we were exploring the topic: how do pets impact child development?, we might extract the following keywords: pets AND child AND development.

Once you have your keywords identified (2-3 is a good place to begin), you then need to connect them together in a way the database understands how to search. This is done using the Boolean search operators AND, OR, and NOT. Connecting keywords using these search operators creates a search string. 

  • AND - narrow search, used to combine terms together and focus search results
  • OR - broad search, used to includes results that contain similar or like words, such as synonyms
  • NOT - narrow search by exclusion, used to exclude results containing a particular keyword

We call the written version of your keywords with boolean search operators the search string. Writing your search string at the beginning of your research process will help you better approach searching in library databases.

Example search string
pets OR animals AND child* AND development

Developing Research Questions

The end goal of the initial stage of research is to form a research question. This question is going to guide you as you conduct your research and guide your audience as they read your paper of view your project.


  • usually begin with a How or Why statement.
  • are narrow in focus.
  • are timely (an issue currently discussed in the literature).
  • possesses utility (your question contributes something to the field of research)

What Does Peer-Reviewed Mean?

What does peer review mean?

An article is considered "peer-reviewed" if it has been reviewed by scholars and professionals within the field of study for which the article was written.

Why should I care?

Peer reviewing is essentially a discussion among scholars in this field of study. By using peer-reviewed sources, you are joining the conversation happening in your field. It also raises the reliability of your sources.

How do I know if something is peer-reviewed?

Ask yourself the following questions about the article you are viewing to determine if it is peer-reviewed: 

  • Does the article contain an abstract?
  • Does the article contain a full bibliography?
  • Are the author(s') credentials easily identified?
  • Does the journal contain little to no advertising?
  • Is the language of the article intended for an informed audience?
  • Does the journal description include the words "peer-reviewed" or "editorial process."?