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Drexel Library

Higher Education Leadership

For Students in the MSHE Degree Program


Welcome to Drexel University Libraries - we're here to help throughout the full cycle of each research project!

Introduction to this Guide

This is as close as I can offer to a one page "tipsheet" on how to use the library resources for education research, based on the live online sessions offered to EDUC classes. Because it is subject to change, I recommend linking to this page instead of copying the text. Questions? Contact a librarian!

OUTLINE of EDUC Orientation:
(for expanded details see panels to the right)

Searching: "Articles & More" aka DragonSearch 

  • Narrowing results using "Subject Terms/More" filter
  • Marking desired articles and reviewing them in the "Saved items" folder
  • Citing & exporting to EndNote or other citation management service
  • Get "citation-only" articles via links on "Get-It" page: "Borrow this item through Interlibrary Loan"

Searching: Library catalog aka "Books and More"

  • Requesting a hard copy item be mailed to you
  • Linking to e-books
  • E-book vendor platforms offer individualized accounts with richer features

Searching for Articles

  • Narrowing searches
  • Using the thesaurus & scope notes
  • Need full-text from abstracts found on ERIC? Copy/paste/search article title on the Drexel Libraries "Articles & More" front-page search box.


  • EndNote – download from DUIT site or use online version. Free alternatives are Zotero or Mendeley. Search for YouTube videos or the Drexel libguides linked here to get started with each of these.
  • - adjust "Settings" (gear icon) so "Library Links" = Drexel and "Search Results" bibliography manager is set to "import citations into" EndNote or whatever your reference manager is.
  • Web of Science is great for quickly determining the "most cited" authors. After searching, and any necessary filtering of results using the left-hand options, see "Sort by" option along top and select "Times Cited: highest to lowest"
  • Inter-library-loan for books in our local network = EZBorrow
  • Inter-library-loan for articles and books out-of-network = ILLiad
  • Sage Research Methods Online – see “methods map” browse option for context on qualitative and quantitative methods

Getting help

  • Library guides for Education
  • Library website front-page chatbox (9am-7pm school nights. 3-7 Sunday)
  • Contact your Education Liaison specialist through the chatbox on each library guide
  • Hours: 9-5 EST during work week, or 8-9 EST pm by appointment
  • Best advice: contact us if you are stumped for >20 minutes!

Getting Help

Getting help should be just another part of your process. Regardless of  whether you would just like to bounce ideas off someone or are truly feeling stuck, we recommend reaching out early. The benefit of having input at an earlier stage in the research process can prevent doubling down on unproductive directions and avoid any undue sense that you are isolated on your academic journey.

Your instructor, your advisor, personal mentors, your peers are all available for perspective. Your librarian can fill a gap that may not otherwise be met within your network: technical knowledge of the research tools and the challenge you have at hand, along with a daily work schedule that has availability for a consultation.

Please feel free to reach out at the stage of "I was just getting started and had some questions...." For your sake, we prefer to hear from you then, instead of getting the call that starts out  "I've been at this for days/weeks and not getting anywhere ..."  

Education Liaison Librarian Availability:
Weekday's 9:30-5:30 EST via phone/email/IM
School nights 8:00PM by appointment
24 hour response or better on school days
See contact info on the side panel

News Topics - National

News Topics - Philadelphia Area

For more detailed specialized coverage on policy issues, see the research and advocacy non-profits listed on the "special topics" page of the Education Policy Library Guide.

Searching: "Articles & More" aka DragonSearch

The "Articles and More" search engine is the default option of the big search box on the Library’s homepage. Also called DragonSearch it searches across all of our full-text subscribed databases. Built as an e-commerce search engine, DragonSearch brings back tons of resources, then offers several powerful filters for refining your results down to a manageable number before you start reading.

Key tip: use “quotation marks” if you have a key phrase or jargon you want treated as such in the search.

For most education papers, you should be sure to limit to articles from peer-reviewed publications using the filters on the left-hand side. If you're still working to define your topic, look closely at the SUBJECT TERMS filter, click the MORE option and review the additional panel of options presented. We recommend you narrow by selecting just one or two subject terms until your resulting article set is of a reasonable number- typically under a hundred.

Adjust the publication dates, so that you are only seeing research from the last 10 – 15 years, depending on your topic.

Wise words: "The only way your search will fail is if you only search once." Brainstorm! This is a creative process! Adapt your search as you identify new key terms and phrases.

While reviewing results, use the folder icon to “Save this item” for articles you like. It will save your results temporarily while you revise your search - so long as you don't close your active browser window. Then after searching a few different ways, see the “Saved items” folder in the upper right to view your favorite articles.

You will have the option to convert your citations to APA format, or export the citations to your favorite citation tool, such as the free (more on this later).

Searching: Library catalog aka "Books and More"

The "Books and More" option from the drop down menu on the main search box on the Libraries front page searches the locally maintained database of our physical and electronic book holdings - what is typically referred to as the "library catalog." Sometimes it's intuitively obvious that the sort of information needed will come in a (longer) book, as opposed to a (shorter) journal article.

Most books at Drexel Libraries on education-related topics are e-books that you can click through and view in your browser. Our e-books come from several different vendors, so the reading interfaces will vary. Some vendors permit downloading of chapters or the whole book, while others require you scroll each page in the browser while remaining online. Some vendors will require you to register for an account on their platform before you are permitted to download.

In contrast, any book record you find in the catalog with a "Location" and "Call Number" is an actual hard-copy book. Distance learning students can use the “Request Item” button to get a desired hard-copy book mailed to them via US Mail.

If Drexel Libraries does not have the hard copy book you want, follow the “Borrow from other Libraries” link from the front page. From there, first try searching the EZBorrow network. If no luck, then try requesting out-of-network via the “ILLiad” Inter-Library Loan system (also works for articles.) Be sure to specify whether you will pick up the book on campus or else indicate you are a distance-learning student and need the book mailed to you. There is no fee for either service, though distance learning students are required to cover the cost of return postage to get the book back to Drexel Libraries. You can renew borrowed books by logging into "My Library Account" from the front page.

Searching for Articles

  • Narrowing searches
    This 8 minute video offers a good summary of your options for narrowing around the 4 minute mark using the public website.
  • Using the thesaurus & scope notes
    How well do you know the terminology of the education field? To better appreciate the nuanced shades of meaning,  search the ERIC Thesaurus in the main search box with the second (green) tab highlighted to see what official indexing terms match your concept. Or you can browse the high level categories on this page to click your way toward more specific terms while gaining a sense of the related terms. Most terms offer short "scope notes" or definitions for greater clarity.
  • Linking to full text
    If you are using the website, do your searching and narrowing to find the few key papers needed. Then copy/ paste/ search the article titles back on the main "Articles & More" search box on the Drexel Libraries website.

As a freely distributed product of the federal government ERIC can be searched on a few different platforms:

  • Your Education Librarian recommends the custom - (5 minute video intro or 8 minute full video)
  • Some faculty prefer the EBSCO platform - (3 minute video intro)
  • Students may be familiar with the Proquest platform from searching that vendors other products - (3 minute video intro)

See the links to short training videos listed above to get familiar with the various user interfaces and decide which you prefer.


Citation Management Services
Drexel Universities makes the desktop version of EndNote available through a site-license. However the online version available at provides much of the same functionality and offers a shorter learning curve as well as being free to the public.

Other good options include the Firefox plugin called "Zotero" which also now has a fully online version. Other options exist such as paid individual subscription to RefWorks and the free  and even more. But these are not supported by the University.

Tracking Citations
Try the Web of Science after you have already determined your optimal keywords or concepts from ERIC. After performing your search use the option "Sort by --- Times Cited --- Highest to Lowest" to determine the central paper and authors for your topic. WoS excludes content that does not originate from highly reputed "high-impact" journals.

GoogleScholar has broader coverage than the Web of Science, but with little of the advanced filtering capabilities of WoS. Scholar also includes less reputable scholarly content that may not be peer-reviewed which WoS takes pains to exclude. To get the most from Scholar, look for the gear-shaped "Settings" option along the top (might be hidden). Use that to set Library Links=Drexel Libraries and Citation Format = EndNote or whatever you prefer.


For books you have not found within Drexel Libraries collection, verify the exact title using Amazon or, then search in Drexel's local lending network of over 80 libraries in the mid-Atlantic region called "EZ-Borrow." Borrowing through EZBorrow can procure a book within two days. Be sure to indicate whether you are picking up on campus or if you are a distance learning student and require the item get mailed to you.

For books that are not available through EZ-Borrow, you may consider requesting it out of network through ILLiad. Delivery time can vary. Contact ILL Staff directly with questions.

Research Methods
Searching Sage Research Methods via keyword is good if you know a specific term. Otherwise, browsing the "Methods Map" feature can guide a fuzzy search by providing a visual representation that shows the context between terms.

10 Easy Steps to Narrow Your Research Topic Using ERIC

Step One: Write down your problem statement or research topic.
    Example: Identifying learning disabilities among underserved elementary school students
Step Two: Identify each core concept in your topic
    Example: disability AND underserved AND elementary students
Step Three: Search each concept individually in the ERIC Thesaurus
    Example: disability AND underserved AND elementary
Step Four: Search alternative terms for each concept, especially if your first attempt yielded no results
    Example: disabilities AND disadvantaged AND elementary school students
Step Five: For each term you find, click through to the page of details for each term to read the Scope Note for that term.
    Example: disabilities AND disadvantaged AND elementary school students
Step Six: Review the list of "Related Terms" for each of your core concepts; decide if any are a better fit.
Step Seven: On the page for those terms that best fit your topic, use the link to "Search collection using this descriptor"
Step Eight: On the results page of article citations, look along the left-hand side of the page under the heading for "Descriptors." Are any of your other core concepts from your topic listed there? If so, click on one of them to narrow your search. Repeat this process on the next page of results. (The "More" link at the bottom of that list of descriptors will extend your list of options for narrowing.)
Step Nine: On a separate document, keep a running list of all the descriptors that you have found useful. Keep a spreadsheet or draw a mind map of your terms and group them as you see best. Copy the most relevant terms into the keyword search box at the top of the page, using  different combinations to see which is most productive. Try quotation marks around the concepts expressed as phrases. Notice the search box has two tabs above it, letting you search either the articles directly or the thesaurus terms.
    Example: "disabilities AND disadvantaged AND "elementary school students"
Step Ten: Review some of the article citations being retrieved by these searches. Look at the descriptors attached to any of the articles you retrieved that best fit your topic. Do any of these new terms justify a new search?
    Example: disproportionate

Let me know how these steps worked for you! How might you change them? Email me!

Getting Full Text

Whether you find citations to journal articles using the databases listed to the right, or have a list of citations from another source, how do you get to the actual TEXT of the article?

From a citation in a database:

Look for the GetItbutton, or a DREXEL FULL TEXT link. This is our linking system that connects you from a citation in one database to the text of that article that might be in a different journal collection.

A new tab or new browser window will open (you may need to turn-off your pop-up blocker!). The article citation and some additional information will be on the right; the article will open in the left side of the page.

When you just have a citation:

Use the Article Lookup page. You DON'T have to type in the whole citation. Start with

  • The DOI if you have one (that's a string like this: 10.1016/j.cortex.2016.09.003 )
  • The ERIC ID number (starting with EJ or ED) if there is one.
  • If you don't have either of those, enter the JOURNAL TITLE, VOLUME, (ISSUE), PAGE NUMBER and YEAR.

"Drexel University Libraries does not have online access to this item."

Don't panic -- we may not have direct access to everything, but we can get most articles for you through our Interlibrary Loan Service.

  • Click on the Borrow this Item through Interlibrary Loan (ILLIAD) button.
  • Log in with your DREXEL EMAIL ID and PASSWORD.
  • If this is the first time you're using it, fill in the registration form. For STATUS use Graduate - Distance Education .
  • Now here's a little trick: after you fill in the registration form, go back to the GetIt page and click that Borrow this Item button again.
  • You should see the Article Request form with all of the citation information filled in; check to make sure it is accurate (especially page numbers) and submit the request.

You'll receive an email message -- usually in 3-4 business days -- with a link to the article.

To check the status of your request:  Log in to ILLIAD 


Sometimes the linking function just doesn't work quite right; there might be a malfunction at the journal website, or there may be problems with the information in the citation. Here are a couple of workarounds that can help:

  • In the right-hand panel of the GetIt page, look for the journal collection name (under "You're accessing this article through:"). Click on the little down-arrow (gray triangle) at the end of the name.
  • Is the article available from another source? Try that!
  • OR click Browse Journal. That will take you to the journal "homepage"; somewhere on that page will be a way to browse to the right volume and issue to find your article.