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Education Research Guide

Guide to sources of information for education


Welcome to the Education Research Guide! This guide will help you do research and provide some resources on education. Starting Research provides information on how to begin the research process, how to start searching, and evaluate resources. The List of Library Resources gives a variety of sources for including books, reference material, and online sources. Finally RefWorks supplies information and tutorials about the RefWorks citation management software, which is available to all Catholic University students and faculty. 

Formulating a Research Question

When beginning your research, start by thinking about broad topics. Make a list of protentional topics that interest you and that there is potential to find source material on it. 


Charter Schools vs Public Schools Teaching in Urban Schools
Improving Literacy with Technology First Year Teaching 
Economic Inequality across Public Schools Assessment

Once you have some general topics, formulate a question or thesis statement. 

Example: Using charter schools from the previous example, we can develop the following thesis: Charter Schools do not have higher average achievement compared to public schools. This statement can also be written has a research question: Do Charter Schools have higher average achievement compared to public schools?

After writing a thesis statement or research question, one can start searching for sources that support or even potentially contradict the statement. See the Finding Sources section below to learn where to find different sources. 

Finding Sources

Before starting your search, develop some search terms that will help you find sources about your thesis statement or research question. Try taking keywords from a developed thesis or research question and add related terms. For example here are some search terms created based on the thesis statement "Charter Schools do not have higher average achievement compared to public schools":

Charter Schools  Public Schools  Achievement 
Private Schools  Reports  Statistics 
Data Growth  Assessment 
Compare  Versus  Students 

Once you have a general question or a rough thesis statement, then you can start searching for sources. A great place to start is Searchbox, Mullen Library's catalog. When searching this catalog, it brings up resources from a vast variety of locations including: Mullen Library, other libraries in Washington, D.C., databases, open access resources, and more. Directly below are a list of helpful general call numbers and subject headings related to education.  

Call Numbers in Education

Most education materials fall into the "L" class and are located in 2 Center of the Mullen Library stacks. Here is a list of the narrower subclasses:

  • L - Education (General)
  • LA - History of Education
  • LB - Educational Theory and Practice
  • LC - Special Aspects
  • LD - U.S. Educational Institutions
  • LH - College and School Publications
  • LJ - Student Fraternities and Societies
  • LT - Textbooks (General)

Subject Headings in Education

You can also use Subject Headings to locate books in SearchBox.  Here are some popular subject headings within Education:

There are other places to search for source materials. Another tool for searching are the Library's databases. Databases are organized collections of information which include abstracts, articles, bibliographies, ebooks, indexes, and more. The Library has general, multidisciplinary as well as subject specific databases. Here are some education-focused databases that may be of interest:

The Library's databases are a great way to find relevant, peer-reviewed information and to narrow down search results. 

A final place to consider searching is Google Scholar. Google Scholar searches retrieve articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions that Google has indexed. This is a great place to start your research or to find a citation. Please note that not everything found in Google Scholar will be accessible for free. Use the Library website to see if that resource is available through the Library. If not, make an Interlibrary Loan (ILL) request.

Evaluating Sources

Once you have found a source that you can potentially use, you should evaluate its credibility. While a source may seem useful for your research, it may be produced by an unreliable source or the information in the source may be misleading or false. So it is important to critically analyze sources, and there are a few different methods for doing this. For this guide we will use the CRAAP. CRAAP stands for Credibility, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy and Purpose. 

Currency- When was the information published?

  • Was it published recently?
  • Has other updated information been published since this source was?

Relevancy- Does this source fit with the research you are doing?

  • How does this source relate to your research topic?

Authority- What are the author(s) qualifications related to the subject?

  • What background do the author(s) have?
  • What have they previously published on this topic?
  • What have other prominent experts in the field said about the author?

Accuracy- Is the information in the source verified to be correct?

  • Does the author(s) backup their claim with reliable evidence?
  • Has their research been fact checked and/or peer-reviewed?

Purpose- What is the author(s) reason for creating this information?

  • Does the author have an affiliation with a group or organization that may impact their point of view?