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HDSR 488: Field Study Seminar: Getting started

Getting started

A few notes on important parts of the research process:

  • Your work includes finding the best terms to describe your setting.  While you may have a term for the setting of your internship it may not be the one used in the literature.  Furthermore an individual internship setting might be nested in a broader concept. 
  • In addition to the correct terminology there is also the problem of finding too much that, while it uses the terminology, is not relevant to your needs.  This problem can be addressed by limiting your search to the setting name as a subject term or descriptor as opposed to a keyword search.  After initiating a search with key words find a relevant article and note the subject descriptors used to label the item.  Usually you can click on that text and the database will automatically do a search on that descriptor.  Generally this will reduce the size of the results.
  • You'll be trying to find ethnographic articles set in settings similar to yours:
    • Use Sociological Abstracts as the primary search tool.  Since it covers the field, it is the most likely to cover ethnographies of your setting.
    • Use scholarly material.  When you search databases such as Academic Search Premier limit the search to scholarly articles.
    • Find forward citations starting with the best article you can find as your starting point.

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Kate Blinn
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Earlham College • 801 National Road West • Richmond, Indiana 47374-4095