Broaden and Narrow Terms in Literature Review

Uploaded by albertsonsthelibrary on 21.11.2012

This tutorial will explain why and how to broaden or narrow your literature review search.
Once we've chosen a research topic and start searching for books and articles,
we'll often find our topic is too broad. For example, there is a lot written about education. That's too broad.
Too broad means it would take forever to sort through it all
there are whole shelves dedicated to education.
We can narrow the topic by getting more specific, which will give us less to sort through and make a more manageable paper.
Getting more specific can be looking at an author or two, a theory, or context within your topic.
So instead of education, let's look at distance education, and let's add a context, elementary school.
How specific you need to be likely depends on your instructor -
check your topic with them as soon as possible. They'll give you good feedback.
It doesn't happen as much, but your topic could also be too narrow, so that there are few or no books or articles about it.
This is usually a problem when you try to look at something local -
unless someone has done a local study on your topic and written about it recently,
you probably need a generalized is all some other places for example if I were narrowing below for local study of elementary school students pursue
For example, if while we were narrowing we looked for a local study of how elementary school students perceive distance education,
we'd be out of luck.
We take out the local part, and we get more results.
If you have a broad enough topic and still get too few results,
try brainstorming to make sure you're using all the terms the database likes about your topic.
We've included a link to a set of videos describing brainstorming processes below.
Another way of broadening or narrowing is using a thesaurus, which is a dictionary of related words.
For education, ERIC is a free database, and it has a thesaurus.
Let's use it to find broader and more narrow terms for a topic.
We can find a link to the ERIC thesaurus from the Instructional and Performance Technology literature review guide.
Let's go there.
Look for the tab called "Step 3 - Review your topic."
This page has a link to the ERIC thesaurus.
Ok. We'll search for distance education.
As it turns out, the thesaurus sees that as a subject term, so we're in luck.
As we look at the entry for distance education we can see narrow and broad terms for this entry.
They actually label them that way.
We can also see related terms.
Now, let's dig deeper into one of the terms we found, by clicking on it.
We can't get any narrower, but there are related terms for it as well.
This is a good way to make a list of terms and to find how our topic relates to others.
So, in review, avoid making your topic too broad or specific.
Use brainstorming or a thesaurus to find related terms.
That was how to broaden or narrow your search, and use a thesaurus to gather more search terms.
Thanks for watching.