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Intercultural Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

What might be different about searching an intercultural studies topic?

Where should I start?

Why not just start with Google Scholar?

Think of the first search as an exploratory search.

What are some specific search strategies that I can use?

Summary of a search strategy


What might be different about searching an intercultural studies topic?

A research challenge for intercultural studies topics is that they tend to be interdisciplinary. 

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Where should I start?

First you start by thinking about your topic.  What do you know? What don't you know?  What are some key terms/phrases that describe your topic?

Next you think about where to do your first search.  Some subject-specific databases might be a starting point if your topic is associated with a discipline like theology, sociology, or education.   Subject specific databases for these areas can be found on the library home page under the database tab.  Select search by discipline.

Bible Theology - ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials Plus

Sociology - SocINDEX with Full Text

Psychology - PsycINFO

Education - ERIC


If your topic does not fit in a specific subject area, search Google Scholar.  Make sure you have  set your Google Scholar preferences to show library links so you have a "Find it @ Wheaton" link to retrieve full text. 

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Why not just start with Google Scholar?

You can, but if your topic fits in a subject areas, using a subject specific database for your a first search will not be as overwhelming as searching Google Scholar or the "ALL" search on the library web site.  The database limits you to a subset of information.

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Think of the first search as an exploratory search.

Use your first search as an opportunity to find additional terms and phrases to use in subsequent searches.  Finding the best terms/phrases to use in your searching is key to finding relevant resources.

Common-place terms may differ from the vocabulary used in scholarly writing.  When you are in a subject specific database look for terms or phrases used in the abstracts, subject headings, and descriptors.

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What are some specific search strategies that I can use?

Google Scholar's "cited by" feature

Whether you are using a subject specific database or Google Scholar, Google Scholar has a "cited by" link that allows you to find related research.

When looking at the results of a Google Scholar search or searching Google Scholar by title, you will get a "cited by" link for each entry in the results list. 

"Cited by" is the number of articles that have the article "cited" in their references. 

When you click on the "cited by" link you will be given the option to "search within" the results displayed. 

The number of times an article is cited can also be a reflection of its importance.


Subsequent Searches

Once you have discovered the words and phrases that describe your topic, you can search in other library databases, use the Discover search on the library home page, and Google Scholar. 


Don't be concerned if your search iterations lead you to change or refine your topic.  This is quite common.  The key is finding the words and phrases that are used in the literature to describe your topic.


Ebooks

The library home page search will also allow you to limit to ebooks, many which are edited volumes with chapters written by scholars in the field. 


Proquest Dissertation Abstracts & Theses

Another place that can be helpful is searching in ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global Full Text.

When someone writes a dissertation, they are expected to do an exhaustive search on their topic.  That means that a dissertation will have a lot of references. 

Searching for a dissertation on your topic can give you articles as well as key authors/scholars in the field to use in subsequent searches. 

Don't forget that you can also use Google Scholar to take advantage of the "cited by" feature.

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Summary of a search strategy

If the subject area of your topic has a key database, e.g. PsycInfo or ATLA, use that database to start, otherwise use the "ALL" search on the library home page and Google Scholar.

Your initial goal should be to discover the terms and phrases that are used in scholarly writing on your topic. 

Don't forget to look at the the subjects or descriptors that are used in subject specific databases. 

Use the terms/phrases that you find to redo searches using the "ALL" search on the library web site and
Google Scholar.  Then do additional searches.
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To search for a phrase, enclose the words in quotes.

Search other subject specific databases to get discipline perspectives on your topic. 

Search Proquest Dissertation Abstracts & Theses.  Dissertations have a lot of references.

Perform title searches using Google Scholar to take advantage of the "cited by" feature.

Don't forget to look at the references cited in relevant articles.

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