This week I attempted to flesh out the beginning of a doctoral dissertation topic – Executive Functions and Study Skills in At-Risk Students. My experience during the query proved that I am still rather ill prepared to be making a final call on what I may desire to do for a dissertation.
The greatest challenge in constructing and using the search query was reducing the number of results. I began searching in my customary manner. I knew the results would be enormous, but I wanted to document a baseline experience grounded in my past practices. Thus, the first Boolean search I performed was for “Action Research” (ALL but text) and “Executive Function” (ALL) or “Study Skills” (ALL) and “Elementary-Aged Students” (ALL). I consciously wondered, Do I use “and”, “or”, or “not”? I opted for “and” and one ‘or’ since I am only concerned with Executive Function Skills and assisting At-Risk students. Adding the “and” narrowed the search because all words/phrases were required to be present to warrant being in the results. Initial results boasted a mere 69,700. Including the ‘or’ heightened the results as well because both ‘executive functions’ and ‘study skills’ were included.
I then narrowed my search by changing the Action Research to search within just the abstracts and eradicated the ‘or study skills’. That narrowed the results, but there were still copious dissertations to view, 3,554 to be exact. I also remembered about the power of quotation marks. Simply by adding a few well-placed words within quotes, I was rewarded with 17 results. Of the 17 results, two look promising.
On a whim, however, I did a search for the challenges of a Boolean search and found the following interactive media piece from Colorado State University. Please feel free to check it out. It is amusing and useful at the same time. http://lib.colostate.edu/tutorials/boolean.html.
On another whim, I thought I would search for something along the line of one of my biggest loves … CATS! Isn’t she beautiful?