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SPE 582 — Trends and Issues in Special Education

Special Education

Contact Information

Carol Dales


CSUDH Library Basic Information

Finding Journal Articles

Finding a Specific Article

Finding Journal Articles on a Topic


Books and Ebooks

Interlibrary Loan

The Internet

Writing a Literature Review

Citing your Sources

How to Use ERIC (detailed version)


CSUDH Library Basic Information

Library Location

Library Hours

Reserve Desk

Library Guides

Ask A Librarian  

Reference Desk

Finding Journal Articles

To find journal articles, use one of the journal article databases on the library home page.

To use CSUDH databases when you're off campus:

  1. You must be a current CSUDH student, faculty member or staff member.
  2. Adobe Acrobat Reader software (v. 10.0 or later) must be installed on your computer.
    As many articles are available only in .pdf (portable document format) format, you need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read and/or print them . Get the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader free at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html
  • For detailed information on how to log in to CSUDH Electronic databases, click here.
  • For an overview of how to use CSUDH databases to find journal articles, click here.
  • To limit your results to peer reviewed articles, look for the words "scholarly" and/or "peer reviewed" and place a check in the box beside these words.
  • Click on a link below to access the database of your choice or use Journal Article Databases to see all available CSUDH databases.

Finding a Specific Article

TIP: sometimes you can quickly  locate a specific article by typing the article title (or the beginning of the article title) into Google Scholar or Quick Search on the Library home page. However, if this doesn't work, try the procedure above.

When you already have a reference or citation to a specific journal article, find out if the CSUDH Library subscribes to the journal you need by consulting the CSUDH University Library Journals List. The CSUDH Journals List helps you locate both online and print journal articles as well as older articles that may be available in the CSUDH Library in bound volumes.

For more detailed help finding a known article, visit the Find a Specific Article tutorial.

Finding Journal Articles on a Topic

When you don't already have a citation or reference to a specific journal article, find articles by using one of our journal article databases.

For a detailed review of how to use the databases to find journal articles, click here. To limit your results to peer reviewed articles, look for the words "scholarly" and/or "peer reviewed" and place a check in the box beside these words before you begin searching.

  • ERIC: comprehensive education database covering a wide range of education subjects; includes both journal articles and miscellaneous educational materials.
  • Education Full Text: covers varying runs of almost 600 education publications.
  • Academic Search Premier: multi-disciplinary database with full text for more than 4,600 publications, many of which are peer-reviewed journals; a good starting point because it covers a wide range of subject areas.
  • JSTOR: contains full text for long back runs of scholarly journals in fields of education and psychology (remember that most articles will be at least three to five years old).
  • PsycINFO: citations and abstracts to scholarly journals in psychology and related disciplines; many references to education-related topics.



A database thesaurus lets you locate correct descriptors/subject headings to use in search.

  • Locate a Thesaurus button or link on the screen (sometimes called "Subject Headings" or "Subject Index", depending on the database you are using.)

  • Type a word or phrase for which you would like to identify a subject heading into the appropriate box .

  • Sometimes you can click on the suggested search term to see a note that defines the term as it is used in the database, as well as a list of narrower , broader and related terms.

  • Either copy down useful descriptors/subject headings or cut and paste them into the search screen where you are working.

  • You can also find valid descriptors listed after the abstract in many ERIC search results (look after the word "Subjects").
  • Note: JSTOR does not have a thesaurus, subject guide or comparable tools.

Books and Ebooks
  • If you will be borrowing print books from the CSUDH Library, take a close look at the regulations on the Circulation /Borrowing Books page.
  • Use the Library's ToroFind online catalog to search for books by author, title or subject.
  • The library owns many books on education topics.. For example, try the following search in the library's online catalog:

    • In the drop-down menu to the left, select "Subject".
    • In the text area to the right, type "special education" and click "Search".
    • Note that in addition to books on the subject you searched for, you also see books listed in over 100 subdivisions of special education.
    • For a list of general books about special education, click the Special Education link.
    • Once you have a list of books on the screen, you can sort your results with the drop-down menu at the right.
    • Under "System sorted, select "Sort by year - newest to oldest" and click "Sort" to see a list of books with the most recent books first.
    • The library also has thousands of electronic books (ebooks), books that have been scanned in that you can read on your computer or electronic device screen on or off campus using the library website. Most of the newest books on most subjects you search will be ebooks.
    • If off campus, read ebooks on your screen after logging in with your campus username and password.
  • You may also directly search for and request printed books through Interlibrary Loan from other libraries by clicking the Search All CSU Libraries or Search WorldCat links

Here are direct links to a few useful ebooks:

            The Praeger handbook of special education, edited by Alberto M.  Bursztyn. (2007)

               The Comprehensive Guide To Special Education Law Over 400 Frequently 
Asked Questions And Answers

A Beginning Teacher's Guide To Special Educational Needs (2009)

·        Curriculum Development For Students With Mild Disabilities Academic And Social Skills For RTI Planning (2010)



Interlibrary Loan

If the CSUDH Library does NOT own a specific journal or book you need, fill out an appropriate online ILL form at http://library.csudh.edu/services/ILL/ and submit an electronic request. You will be notified by email when the item you need has been received.

A print or electronic copy of the requested item will be obtained from another library, but may take as long as 7 to 14 days to arrive.


The Internet

Google is an helpful search engine, but unless you know exactly how to search and evaluate what you find, you may end up with millions of web pages on your topic and hundreds of subtopics.

Three tips:

  1. Use Google's Advanced Search page to do a more precise search.

  2. When using information from the web for projects and research papers, remember to evaluate the quality and reliability of the information.

    For help evaluating web pages, try Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages (Cornell University Library).

  3. The Library home page link to Google Scholar lets you search some scholarly literature, including many peer reviewed articles. However, you will probably not find all of the important articles on your topic unless you try other strategies too. When you need scholarly literature, the Library databases listed above are a better option for beginning your research.

    Be sure to use the link to Google Scholar on the Library home page so your search will contain links to CSUDH full text articles.

Writing a Literature Review
What is a literature review?

It is an account of what has been published on a topic by recognized scholars and researchers, and is frequently a required part of the introduction to an essay, research report or thesis.
The literature review should communicate to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.
As you plan, let yourself be guided by your own research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis.
What are the characteristics of a good literature review?

The literature review is far more than a descriptive list of resources you found on a topic. It should:
    • be organized into sections that present themes or identify trends and also relate to your research question
    • synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known
    • identify areas of controversy in the literature
    • formulate questions that need further research.
How can I choose what to include?

Ask yourself these questions about each book or article you include:
  • Has the author stated a problem or issue? Is it clearly defined?
  • Is the significance (scope, urgency, relevance) of the problem clearly established?
  • Does the author evaluate the literature relevant to the problem or issue?
  • Does the author include literature representing positions she or he does not agree with?
  • If the article or book is about a research study, is the study well designed and executed?
  • Does this book or article contribute to our understanding of the problem or issue?
  • How does this book or article relate to the specific thesis or question I am proposing? 

Citing your Sources

When writing a paper or completing a project for a class, you will be asked to provide a bibliography of all of the materials that you used. Make notes as you are doing research to keep track of sources of information you use.

The Purdue Online Writing Lab helps you determine what information to gather and show you how to cite books, articles, and web resources in APA, MLA, and Chicago/Turabian formats.

Check with each professor to find out which citation format to use for papers in that class.

How to Use ERIC (detailed version)

                                 How to Use ERIC 

  •  What is ERIC?

    • Educational Resources Information Center, U.S. Department of Education, a huge database with citations and abstracts, but almost no full text articles.

    • a free online version gives educators access to education literature (both journal articles and 300,000+ misc. documents), 1966 to date; searchable by keyword, author, title, etc.

    • publisher / vendor EBSCO sells us their value-added version of ERIC; searchable and has many links to full text of articles.

    • NOTE: If you try to avoid using EBSCO ERIC by searching for your assigned articles through Google and/or Google Scholar, you may miss out on important articles on your topic and obtain a lower mark on your literature review :(

  • What is a citation? 

    • A citation is a reference to a work (such as a journal article or a book) that provides all the information needed to locate the work. An article citation includes author(s), article title, journal title, volume, pages and date.

  •  How to use ERIC to find a journal article when you already have the citation:

     If you think an article you need may be in a journal indexed by ERIC, search for it by entering pieces of information you already have into the ERIC search boxes.

Find an article entitled “A comparison of two direct instruction reading programs for urban middle school students” by M. E. Shippen, D. E.
, & C. E. Steventon
in the Vol. 26, No 3, May-June 2005 issue of
Remedial and Special Education:
         1. type a distinctive phrase from the article title ( e.g.: direct instruction
           reading programs
) into the top search box.              
2. type the major author’s last name only ( e.g.: Shippen) into the
              search box on the second line. 
        3. (optional) type the journal title into the Search box on the third line. 
        4.  Click the blue Search button.  

 If you're not sure which database contains the journal, try entering the title
of the article into the "exact Phrase" box on the CSUDH Library version of
Google Scholar or Quick Search.

  • Use ERIC to find articles on a topic in the field of education:

* Analyze your question or topic looking for its unique concepts and vocabulary:
    - Write down the most important key words or phrases.
    - Develop a list of synonyms for each word or phrase.
      The resulting words or phrases are your search terms.  

* Use connector words to combine your search terms:
      AND will narrow search results    e.g. cooperative learning (on 1st line) AND mathematics
                                                                           (on 2nd line)
      OR will broaden search                  e.g. middle school OR junior high (type on one line)
      NOT will narrow (limit) search.     e.g. mathematics NOT algebra

  • ERIC contains two different types of content:

    Journal articles: citations & abstracts of over 1 million articles from 1000+ professional    journals, 1882 to date (ERIC Journal numbers all begin with EJ)
    ERIC Documents: unpublished materials of all kinds, archived by ERIC; includes conference papers, books, speeches, government reports, teaching guides, lesson plans and other education literature.
    Eric Document numbers all begin with ED)

    NOTE: for most assignments that ask you to find JOURNAL ARTICLES only, eliminate unwanted Document (ED) results BEFORE you search by limiting your results in the "Search Options" section below the search boxes: Journal or Document / click on Journal articles).
  • View and Print your Search Results in ERIC:

    • Results (each result is called a record) appear with the most relevant first.
    • Each record includes a citation
    and an abstract with your search terms  highlighted.
    • Subject headings assigned to articles in your search
    appear below the abstract of each record.
      Use subject headings in subsequent searches to obtain better or more precise results.
    To see more information about an article, click on the article title.
    • To see the complete article (full text), click either "PDF Full Text” or "HTML Full Text".
    records have a red and white  "Find it @CSUDH Library"
     button at the end of the abstract. 
     Be sure to click on it to see if the article is in a different database or in printed form.

  • Get articles (or books) the CSUDH Library does not own:

    • Use the online ILL form (click Inter-Library Loan / ILLiad login to submit an online request for an article or a book (Note: if it’s your first ILLiad request, you will be asked to set up a user account).   

    •  Print or electronic copy of that article will be obtained from another library and emailed to you, but will usually take at least a week or longer to arrive !!!

What is plagiarism? - Plagiarism is "The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft." (source: Oxford English Dictionary)

   Instances of plagiarism include:

  • Quoting or paraphrasing someone's work in your paper without citing it
  • Expressing someone else's ideas as your own

Plagiarism is a serious matter and could result in a lower or failing grade and even expulsion from the University.

But I didn't know! - Ignorance of the law is, unfortunately, no excuse. You can commit plagiarism without meaning to, and, it's just as serious.

How can I avoid it? - You can avoid plagiarism by giving credit where credit is due and always citing your sources. Whenever you insert a quotation, re-word information you got from a source or present an idea developed by someone else, be sure to include a citation in the proper style (MLA for this class). It is important to take detailed notes on where you are finding information for your paper as you find it.  This helps to ensure you will cite the information correctly as you begin writing your paper.  

For more information about plagiarism, see your student handbook, the CSUDH Student Code of Conduct, and this page from Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL).

P.S.: Take a look at our new CSUDH Library anti-plagiarism tutorial: Plagiarism: How to recognize it and get it out of your life! (and don't forget to try out the challenging plagiarism game at the very end!)