​Searching for Literature

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Searching for Literature

As a doctoral student, you are required to be thorough and exhaustive in your search for academic resources. This requirement not only exists so you can avoid duplicating existing research, it also empowers and prepares you to contribute to the thinking and practice in your chosen area of interest. One key to achieving this goal is to develop proficiency in literature searches.

Walden Library has numerous research databases. Some may be more useful than others for finding articles related to your topic. Before you begin to search for articles, it is important to identify the databases that will be most useful. It also is important to use the best searching strategies. If you search using keywords that are too broad, you may be inundated with useless information. If you search using keywords that are too specific, you may miss articles that are pertinent to your topic. It is key, therefore, to be both efficient and thorough in your search process.

In this Discussion, you will consider your search process, the keywords and databases you used, and how the articles you found inform your ongoing research.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Using the Walden University library, find five articles based on the topic of Learning in Adults as it applies to your specific doctoral program area (see Week 1). Take note of the key words and terms you used.
  • Review Chapter 3, “Selecting a Topic and Identifying Literature for Review” (pp. 17–28), in the Galvan text.
  • Review Chapter 9, “Dissertation Chapter 2: Literature Review” (pp. 84–88), in the Stadtlander text.
  • As needed, review Learning Resources provided this week related to the literature search process, including searching strategies, library tips, navigating library databases, and evaluating resources.

Post by Day 3 a response in which you do the following:

  • Identify the keywords and databases you used to find your five articles. Provide full references for the five articles you selected.
  • Explain why you chose these articles and how they relate to your program area.

Respond by Day 5 to two of your colleagues by making suggestions for additional keywords they could use or additional databases they could search.

Note: In Week 6, you will be using these five articles to create an Annotated Bibliography for your Final Assignment.


  • Galvan, J. L., & Galvin, M. C. (2017). Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences (7th ed). New York: Routledge.
    • Chapter 3, “Selecting a Topic and Identifying Literature for Review” (pp. 28-41)
  • Stadtlander, L. (2018). Finding your way to a Ph.D.: Advice from the dissertation mentor (2nd ed.). Createspace.
    • Chapter 9, “Dissertation Chapter 2: Literature Review” (pp. 81-91)
  • Walden University Library. (2015c). Searching and finding information in the library databases. Retrieved from http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/library/searchingfinding
  • Walden University Library. (2015b). Literature review: Sample search log: Library search log. Retrieved from http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/library/searchlog

Optional Resources

  • Walden University. (2015a). Library webinar archives: Webinars on library skills. Retrieved from http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/library/webinararchives/libraryskillswebinars
    • Brainstorming Search Terms (approximate length: 39 minutes)
    • Evaluating Resources (approximate length: 1 hour)
    • Google Scholar for Scholarly Research (approximate length: 44 minutes)
    • Library Tips for the Literature Review (approximate length: 1 hour)
    • Searching Strategies (approximate length: 46 minutes)

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