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TESOL and Intercultural Studies

Resources for Students @ a Distance

This page contains resources for students in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program

Be sure to familiarize yourself with using the library to access resources when you are not on campus in this guide.

Resources to help at each step of your research paper or project

It is difficult to recommended one database for finding resources in TESOL since it is an interdisciplinary topic.

Whether you start with search on the library home page, a specific database, or Google Scholar, the best research strategy is to use the iterative research process, where you perform multiple searches, refining your research criteria based on what you find.  Each iteration will take you closer to your desired goal. 

"Researching an Interdisciplinary Topic" below provides specific research strategies.

View a sample search

Consider installing and using Zotero, software that you can use to organize your citations and help with writing and citing.

Resources to help you evaluate information you find:

Use the CRAAP Test for evaluating resources

Evaluating Web Pages: Techniques to Apply & Questions to Ask

Steps and Guidelines for effectively evaluating websites. (From UC-Berkeley

Consult the Qualitative Research Guide

The Guide provides:

  • An overview of qualitative research including data collection techniques and data analysis.
  • How to use qualitative software like QDA Miner lite, easy to use software for coding and data analysis. 
    • QDA Miner lite is FREE "lite" version of a flagship product.  Although designed to run on a PC, you can use free software to create an app that will run on a MAC.  You will find installation information in the guide.
  • Other FREE software like Tams Analyzer, developed specifically for the MAC.  It is more difficult to learn than QDA Miner lite.

Consult these resources to help you write your literature review.

Short 3-minute video explaining how to synthesizing literature when writing a literature review

The Wheaton College writing center has resources to help you with writing and formatting your paper.

Zotero is a reference manager that can not only hell you organize your research resource but it can also help you with formatting in-text citations and your bibliography.

Citation style guides

Search library FAQs

Text: 630-426-3432
Phone: 630-752-5169

Researching an Interdisciplinary Topic

Frequently Asked Questions

What might be different about searching a TESOL topic?

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


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.

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. 


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.


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.


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 All 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.


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 Dissertation Abstracts & Theses.

  • 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.


Summary of a search strategy

  1. If the subject area of your topic has a key database, e.g. PsycInfo or ERIC, 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. 
  2. 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.
    • 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.
  3. Perform title searches using Google Scholar to take advantage of the "cited by" feature.
  4. Don't forget to look at the references cited in relevant articles.


Online TESOL Resources