This guide outlines a simple, effective step-by-step approach to finding information for your assignment, based on the resources found on the Communication Disorders guide.
If you need individual help please do not hesitate to contact the Communication Disorders Librarian.
PubMed is most useful for topics with a medical aspect.
PsycINFO has a broad coverage, including brain functioning and language development and disorders.
Web of Science covers all academic disciplines and is useful for all aspects of Communication Disorders.
CINAHL stands for Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature.
Search more than one database to cover the literature.
Google Scholar enables you to search simply and broadly across scholarly literature. Note that search results are displayed by relevance, not date, but can be limited to the date range you want. Use Scholar Preferences to create links to UC's online holdings.
You will need to use the Library's databases for a systematic, comprehensive search of your topic.
Define your topic and develop a search strategy
This is necessary because information sources contain millions of records and you want to find the tiny subset covering your topic. Use the steps below to guide your thinking.
Identify the key ideas for your topic.
These words will form the basis of your search. To do a really effective search on large, international databases you need to think more deeply about the search words you use. Consider the words a variety of authors writing about your topic might use.
You will find your information more effectively by asking the following four questions about your key search words:-
What synonyms or related words might usefully be included in my search? e.g. swallowing disorders/deglutition disorders/dysphagia
What about search words with variant endings?
This is specially important for finding both the singular and plural of search words. e.g.child* finds child/children/childhood
Note that in many databases you can use an asterisk at the end of the root word to find other endings.
What about search words with different spellings?
This is important when searching international sources. AskOxford provides a summary of the main differences between British and American spellings.
How do I connect my search words?
How do you logically connect your search words to achieve your intended result?
Use or to connect synonyms and related words. Place brackets around words connected with or. e.g. (hearing impairment or hearing disorder).
Use and when you want to focus your search by adding in additional words e.g. cleft palate and speech
More information about connecting search words
Experiment with combinations of search words to find the ones that retrieve the best information for your topic.
The Library's subject dictionaries and encyclopedias are reliable sources for definitions of technical terms and background information on medical conditions.
If you also use Wikipedia note that the more reliable articles draw on information from quality sources that are referenced at the end of the article. These may provide additional sources for you to pursue. Check any dates given for the currency of the article. You will need to exercise your own judgment about the nature and quality of what you read.
Search the UC Library catalogue to find books, book chapters and reports on your topic
Journals are scholarly publications. Each issue contains a number of different articles by different authors. Many journals cover Communication Disorders topics.
Search the indexing databases to find articles on your topic. Most databases link you to the article online if UC has a subscription.
See the separate box on this page for tips on which databases to search for your topic.
The Internet can be a rich source of information but not everything will be useful or appropriate for research use. Web resources should be carefully evaluated and used in conjunction with the scholarly resources provided by the Library.
Communication Disorders students may, for example, search the Web to find organisational publications, such as reports and research. You can limit your search to particular types of web sites by including domain names such as .org or .ac in your search.
Linked below is an online tutorial designed to help UK university students develop their Internet research skills. There is much that will be helpful for New Zealand students, too.
Internet Detective "Wise up to the Web. Learn to discern the good, the bad and the ugly for your online research."
More about evaluating Internet information.
References recommended on your reading lists have already been evaluated for quality. You will need to evaluate sources that you find yourself. Think critically about the information you find. The quality of your information will contribute to the quality of your assignment.
More on evaluating your sources