Keeping My Feet On My Path

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien

I can connect to Bilbo’s words of wisdom to Frodo in many aspects of my life, but recently, this quote has been rattling in my brain with regards to research. This summer, I started out my research door on a path of discovery in one of my University of Victoria classes. I was given the opportunity to start working with and discovering the world of academic research. I admit, I often stayed upon the comforting “digital” path of UVic’s great library resource, Summit. I timidly entered search items and was delighted with the numerous articles, books, and reports on the topic of choice. It was fun to search for topics not related to my current area of study, but just to see what has happened in the academic world of Early Childhood Education while I have been developing as a teacher in my classroom. I was definitely swept off on tangents as new interests grabbed my attention, and I often ended up not knowing where I had gotten to. It was exciting, though, and I thought I was navigating this world with expertise.  I had no idea how wrong I was.

In November, Scott Johnston, a University of Victoria Graduate Studies librarian spoke to the tiegrad cohort about navigating the world of academic research, and my eyes were opened. Thankfully, he reviewed the basics of Summit, but showed us some fabulous features that can be found on almost all of the databases I would need to search. I never knew the left hand column in Summit could help me so very much. I just have to click off a few boxes to limit my searches to find an article that is:

  • peer-reviewed
  • between 2010-2014
  • limited to education journals
  • contains specific subject terms.

I had suddenly been given the tools to take the 486, 435 results I had from typing in “Outdoor Education” and was able to narrow it down to 1, 927. Yes, it is still a lot to go through, but Scott went even further by going over the “and, or, not” terms which most likely help me to further narrow my results.  We weren’t done yet, though.

Our esteemed guest very nicely showed us the many databases we had access to. I know I could spend hours travelling down many divergent paths, but I will do my best to stay the course I am travelling. Between ERIC, Ed/IT, PsychINFO, Google Scholar and Web of Science, it will be very hard not to do a side search somewhere on Reggio, Orff, Kodaly, Hawkins and more. Oh, and did I mention that Scott also talked about Infoline?  Yes, I found out that I have access to the books in the library, and that I can get them delivered to my house. Oh, the reading I can do!

Many thanks, Scott Johnston, for a great presentation and discussion to our cohort. Your wisdom and insight into the world of databases and libraries will definitely help me to keep my feet on this path.

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