Chapter 8: Gathering Research and Establishing Evidence

When Your Results are Limited or Inappropriate

  1. Check your spelling. You may have misspelled the terms. Consider also your use of hyphens or open and closed compound words. Have you included alternate spellings or accounted for differences in Canadian, British, or American spelling?
  2. Try the search without using quotations around exact phrases, in case the search engine that you are using does not consistently support this level of searching.
  3. Consider better terms to describe your concept. If you are unhappy with the search results for a term like post-secondary, try using an alternate such as higher education, or, try searching using the OR operator: post-secondary OR higher education.
  4. If you used a geographic term such as the name of a country or geographic region in your search, re-try it without the geographic name. This should broaden your search and return more citations. If you have limited your results to Canada, you may find there is little published with a Canadian context—there may be a fair amount of articles about the topic in other countries like the United States or the United Kingdom (Great Britain), where the populations are larger.
  5. If your thesis topic is very narrow or very current, there may not be very much published in scholarly journals at this time. You may want to consider revising your topic.

For very current topics, the types of publications that will be first to report on it are likely to be newspapers, social media posts, and personal weblogs. Scholarly journal articles may appear months or even two years after they are submitted to the editor of a journal. Books generally take even longer to write and get published. Therefore, you may not find any scholarly articles that relate directly to your topic. In such circumstances, if peer-reviewed journal articles are a requirement for the assignment, you may need to step back and look at a broader view of the topic to find other research that you can apply to your own research topic.

If you do a search for the thesis example from earlier in this chapter, you would probably  find articles about the use of graphic novels to teach reading comprehension in general, but not specifically for teaching graphic adaptations of the dramatic works written by Shakespeare. You may be able to apply some of this general research to your own thesis. Or, the research results may be about reading comprehension at the elementary level, not the secondary level. Again, you may be able to  apply these findings to your argument. You may find an article or book chapter that discusses the use of graphic novels in teaching Renaissance literature in general but not specifically Shakespeare. Because Shakespeare is generally considered to belong to the the Renaissance period, it may be safe to apply such findings about reading comprehension of Renaissance literature toward William Shakespeare.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Write Here, Right Now: An Interactive Introduction to Academic Writing and Research Copyright © 2018 by Ryerson University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.