EDCI 809: Doctoral Seminar

last modified 2016-08-24T15:12:17-04:00

Note, this guide has not been updated to reflect the August 2015 launch of the Discovery search tool


On behalf of the Tarver Library, welcome to the Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction program at Mercer University! Your professors are the experts on the subject matter.  My goal as your Subject Librarian is to assist you with identifying, finding, citing, and managing information resources as you move along your journey that ends with the completion of your dissertation.  Each of you will eventually identify a specific topic for your dissertation.  For the purpose of this guide, we will explore the topic of cyber bullying to identify and locate information resources and the library services you may need as you complete your course of study.  Since you may be at different stages of your journey, this guide is divided into tabs to cover specific actions.  You may want to start at the beginning or advance to specific areas that are of immediate interest.  As your Subject Librarian, I am available to help you navigate the available resources and refer you to discipline-specific colleagues as appropriate. You may contact me by phone at (478) 301-2031 or by e-mail at rhodes_tp@mercer.edu.  Disclaimer:  the screen shots in this guide are for illustrative purposes only, you cannot click on images or links.

Identifying Resources:

Before you start searching, you need to prepare a list of the words or phrases that describe your subject.  Taking the time to do this before you start can save you considerable time, especially since you can use the same list whether you are searching for articles, chapters in a book, books, government publications, or even dissertations.  For our topic on cyber bullying, assignment, here is a beginning list of words.  You will want to add some, but these should get you started:

  • cyber bullying
  • cyberspace bullying
  • bullying
  • cyberpunk
  • cyberspace

Remember, that sometimes you may need to use alternative forms of the word.  For example, bully, bullying, bullied as well as cyberbully, cyber-bully, and cyber bully.  As we refine our topic, we may also need to narrow this to specific ages, grade levels, or focus on causes or preventative measures, or effects, or...  The possibilities can be endless, and we want to start big, read lots of information, and then begin to narrow to find the area where we focus our research.  Keep this list handy as you begin searching, so that you can add new words and even remove words that do not lead you in the right direction.

You have at least three options when searching for articles:

1) You can go directly to specific journals themselves.  This means that you have to know which journals might have articles and then look through each issue where you may or may not find an article.

2) You can go to Google or Wikipedia.  Remember, your final goal is a dissertation.  The chances are not high that you will find the scholarly references required for this level of research in these resources, or you may end up at a pay wall.

3) You can go to a database where you can search literally thousands of journals (and even books) using the terms you have identified.

Option 3, using library databases to search is your best course of action!

The first step is to login to the University Libraries website.  Why? Logging in authenticates you against the library's proxy server.  Why do you care?  If you are not logged in, you will not be passed to the resources specifically purchased for Mercerians.  This means you may end up at a pay wall rather than finding access to the materials already purchased for you.  Plus, if you take the time to login before you search, you should not have to stop again to enter a password or your Mercer University ID (MUID) to access a database or complete the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) form to request items.  You use the same login and password to access My Mercer.

A separate log in is required later only 1) if you want to look at your library account, or 2) if you want to see any items stored in a personal account (for example, articles in an EBSCO folder). 

Subject Librarians (Tarver) and Liaisons (Swilley) cover every major, minor, and concentration offered at Mercer.  They take the time to create a web page that can quickly lead you to sources in your discipline. 

  • Once you have logged in to the website, click on the Research Guides and Tutorials link in the lower left-hand side of the screen:


  • This is where you can return to find the link to this course guide, see the list of databases, the names of librarians working with Education, and other course-specific pages:

  • Select Education Full Text from the list of databases:

  •  Drawing from our list created earlier, we will do a search for articles on cyber bullying.  Notice as you type the search term the database will often supply possible terms.  This is a good opportunity to add some of these to your list.




    • This "shotgun" search approach returns 458 articles--way too many for us to review.  Focusing on the left-hand side of the screen, we can easily refine our results to narrow our search.  For example, searching instead for articles in scholarly (peer reviewed) journals, published only in the last three years in academic journals, with a subject of cyberbullying--research returns a more manageable list of 48 articles.  You can easily add and remove these limiters to narrow in on an area of interest.

    • Look at the subjects that are listed for each article.  You may find additional words to add to the list you are keeping.  These terms may be especially helpful when searching to identify specific research methods, such as meta-analysis, mathematical models, and/or regression analysis.
    • Two icons at the far right-hand side of the screen allow you to quickly view the specifics of each article (magnifying glass) and add an item to a folder. Once items are added to a folder, the folder icon turns yellow.  This is a good way to store information for using later.  You may need to create an account in each database to store this information.

    • Once items are added to a folder, they can be accessed by clicking the folder link at the top of the results screen:

    • Once items are in a folder, you can print, e-mail, or export the citations.

    • The e-mail icon also allows you to select to have the citation formatted for APA.  Note: you will want to pay special attention to personal names, capitalization, and dates for each citation.  It is a good idea to review each citation to make sure that it confirms to the exact formatting and punctuation guidelines that your professor requires.

    • Remember to look at the subject listed in the description for each article.  Add these to your list of words, and plug them into a new search to retrieve even more articles.  For example, look at the wealth of words from just one article:

    • Another tip is to review the list of references in an article.  Once you find an article that looks especially promising, look at it closely both in terms of the words used to find that one (tip above) and then look to see if there are references, notes, or bibliography included.  These can save you lots of time!  Using a bibliography/list of references that someone else has already compiled can cut your searching time dramatically.  You can use the e-journal locator that we used above to plug in the title of each of these articles or the library catalog to plug in the title of each of these books to see what we own.  This can be a major timesaving tip! The full title of the journal must be identified first, so stop and ask for help before you get frustrated! 

    • Your topics and associated disciplines will vary.  Remember, Subject Librarians have created guides and tutorials on frequently used resources and subject pages for a wide range of disciplines.
Finding Resources:
    • Once you have used databases to identify resources, the next step is to determine whether we have access to the articles.  Look first for any icons for full text.    Many of these articles are available in HTML and PDF.  PDF is often a better choice when available, since charts and drawings transfer better in this format.  Clicking on either of these formats provides access to the article.

    • Not all articles have either HTML, PDF, or linked text options.  You may find a link that includes the Mercer logo that will take you to the ejournal locator. 

    • Clicking on the Mercer logo takes you out of the database and into the ejournal (LinkSource results) locator to identify possible locations.

    • Clicking on the link to Wiley takes you to the article.  Why does this happen?  Competition exists even in the library world.  EBSCO is the content provider for Education Full Text.  Wiley is a competitor.  The library purchased the link resolver that cuts through the database vendors to provide you what you want--access to the article.
    • There are times when the full-text is not available, even by using the Mercer logo link.  The article may not be available in a resource purchased by the library or the publisher may have imposed an embargo limiting access to the most current articles.  Do not despair!  You have the option of ordering a copy of these articles (or the actual book) through a service called Interlibrary Loan, ILL for short.  For example, clicking on item #5 from our search leads us to this screen:

    • Clicking on the link to request the article through ILL takes you to a form.  Since you are already logged in, the form will automatically load both your personal information and the citation information necessary to order the article.  (If you have not logged in, you will get a prompt to login at this point.)

    • It is important to review the entire form and complete several boxes:
      • select the library where you want the item delivered (applies more to books than articles)
      • include the source of the citation (Education Full Text)
      • confirm that the Mercer University Libraries do not have access to the article
      • confirm that you have read the copyright statement

    • Articles are sent electronically to your Mercer University e-mail address and should be received within five business days.  If you have any questions about an ILL request, contact Cecilia Williams at williams_ca@mercer.edu
  • Believe me; this does get easier once you do it several times.  Do not let this process overwhelm you! This is why I am here and why Tarver Library reference librarians are available.  Just stop and Ask Jack!
  • Your most important task is to evaluate and use the articles, and we cannot help you there.  We can, and will, help you discover the articles.
  • A comprehensive literature review is often part of your discovery process.  Believe it or not, the library catalog will lead you to books, e-books, government documents, reference materials, curriculum materials, websites, juvenile literature, and even media!  Plus, you decide if you want to see all of the resources (Swilley in Atlanta, Tarver in Macon, Douglas County, Henry County), or if you only want to see what is available at a specific location.
  • Returning to our list of words, we can search the Catalog tab in the left-hand corner of the libraries website for cyberbullying:

Our "shot-gun" search approach returns 16 hits, including items in Government Documents, Tarver stacks, e-books, websites, Swilley juvenile literature, and even a master's theses available in Special Collections at the Tarver Library.

    • You can request that items be sent to you by clicking on Request this title link to the left of the entry

  • Complete the form by including your name and Mercer University (ID) and select where you want to pick up the item.  Please let me know if you need additional assistance in having materials delivered to you. 
  • Notice the link to click for an enhanced record.  These records can include a detailed summary, table of content information, and/or biographical information about an author.  This is another place to look for references (also called a bibliography) and more words to add to the list of terms you consult before searching.


  • Only one of the enhanced options is available at a time, but clicking the symbol next to the one that is not displayed will cause it to expand while the other one is hidden.



  • You may want to look at examples of dissertations as you begin to think about your own.  The best place to find these is a database devoted entirely to dissertations and theses.
  • ProQuest Dissertations and Theses — Full text includes millions of searchable citations to dissertation and theses from around the world from 1861 to the present along with over a million full text dissertations available for download in PDF format and over 2.1 million titles available for purchase as printed copies. Full text is offered for most of the dissertations added since 1997, each dissertation published since July 1980 includes a 350-word abstract written by the author, and master's theses published since 1988 include 150-word abstracts.  Where available, the database provides 24-page previews of dissertations and theses.  Full text dissertations are archived as submitted by the degree-granting institution, so some are native PDF while others are a PDF image.
  • There are several ways to access this resource, including 1) the Education Subject Librarian page under databases, and 2) using the databases tab from the libraries website.  Since we have already used the Education Subject Librarian page to find a database earlier in this guide, we will start at the University Libraries website to look for the Dissertation and Theses database:


  • You can select the beginning letter for the database (in this case D for Dissertations and Theses full-text) or search by subject.  (Hint:  searching by Education here will return you to the Subject Librarian page.)

  • A basic search using the single term cyberbullying retrieves over 1,200 items.

  • Using the option to limit to doctoral dissertations only and the toolbar on the right-hand side of the screen, we can narrow our results to a more manageable number by viewing only doctoral dissertations and opting to use cyberbullying as an index term--reducing our results to only 168.
  • Note that you can also limit a search to a specific school, such as Mercer University!

  • As indicated by the icons above, many of these dissertations and theses are available in full text.  Not all of them are, and you may have to purchase a copy.
Citing Resources:

As a member of the academic community, you have responsibilities.  First, as a Mercerian, you are bound by the code of academic conduct and the honor code.  A specific emphasis is the importance of giving credit where it is due to avoid any appearance of plagiarism.  Mercer defines plagiarism as "... the use of ideas, facts, phrases, quotations, reproductions, or additional information, such as charts or maps, from any source without giving proper credit to the original author.  Failure to reference any such material used is both ethically and legally improper." (http://departments.mercer.edu/arc/documents/plagiarism.pdf/).  Consequences for any infraction of the Statement of Ethics, the Honor Code, and/or the Georgia Professional Code of Ethics are severe, and could include dismissal from Mercer's Professional Education Program in the Tift College of Education.

Second, you are now participating in a conversation taking place around a particular topic with other experts.  This idea of scholars connected in a conversation comes from Leslie Stebbins work, Student Guide to Research in the Digital Age:  How to locate and Evaluate Information Sources.  According to Stebbins (2006), "Knowledge-building is an ongoing, interconnected process, and research involves tapping into the grapevine of scholarly debate about a topic and making sure you uncover all the key contributing voices." p. 11.

Finally, on a more personal level, you want to give credit because you want others to provide the same level of respect and courtesy to you.  You want others to uncover and appropriately cite your contributions as part of the research conversation.

There are hundreds of different style manuals, and this guide begins to explain why there are so many different types.  Created and maintained by the American Psychological Association, the APA style manual is used by many social sciences because it is well suited to quantitative studies and analysis.  Learning this standardized format of citations used by fellow researchers is another benefit of membership within the academic community.

If you have not used this citation manual before, it can be confusing.  The following guides and tutorials are a sample of the resources available to help you learn your style manual.  The more you use the style, the more comfortable you will become, but it will take time!  Tarver Library has two copies of the printed APA style manual available for a two-hour checkout from the Circulation Desk.

  • Purdue OWL: APA Formatting and Style Guide
    The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University is one of the most used resources on using the APA citation style.  Links on the left margin lead you to specific information on Reference lists, in-text citations, and formatting.  You may find it helpful to look at their sample paper as you work on your own.  This paper may also be downloaded as a PDF document.
  • The Writer's Handbook: APA Documentation Guide
    The Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin - Madison created this guide.  Links on the right margin lead to specific information parenthetical citations, Reference lists, format and heading, and usage and style.  The Writing Center also provides this PDF handout on common APA guidelines.

  • The Basics of APA Style
    The American Psychological Association created this tutorial for those with no previous knowledge in using the style manual.  You will need to click on a link within this URL to start the tutorial.  This page also provides links to quick answers on References and formatting.
  • The University of Georgia Libraries have created this document that we often use here at Mercer.

Tarver librarians are available to assist you with reviewing your citations.  Please ask a librarian for assistance!  It is important to remember that instructors may have specific guidelines of their own.  When in doubt whether or not to use a particular aspect of APA style, always ask your instructor to clarify.

Managing Resources:

If you have not realized it already, you will be accumulating a lot of information as you prepare for and then write your dissertation.  Now is the time to consider carefully the best way to organize and manage that information.  Tarver Library recommends a software program called Zotero (pronounced "zoh-TAIR-oh") that collects, manages, and cites research sources. It is easy to use, lives in your web browser where you do your work, and best of all it is free. Zotero allows you to attach PDFs, notes and images to your citations, organize them into collections for different projects, and create bibliographies. It automatically updates itself periodically to work with new online sources and new bibliographic styles. Also, Zotero offers an add-in for Microsoft Word and LibreOffice, OpenOffice, and NeoOffice, which makes inserting and formatting citations easy as pie.  Currently, Zotero is available as a Firefox add-on, and as Standalone software that interacts with Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. Zotero DOES NOT work with Internet Explorer. Developers at Zotero are working on making a version compatible with Internet Explorer, but it is probably not happening soon.

Tarver librarians have created several guides for using this resource that are listed below. 

We also have some video tutorials available.  These require Flash and may not be viewable on all devices:

Help and Support:

As evidenced by the extreme length of this one guide, there is a wealth of resources to learn---and eventually master as you work your way through seminars and classes to complete your dissertation.  There are also other resources you may want to review, so look at our Guides & Tutorials page.  Some of these may not be viewable on all types of mobile devices.  

The Jack Tarver Library also offers assistance, including:

You may also want to check other course-specific guides written for Education classes in Atlanta and Macon:

You are not alone.  Please let me know how I can best assist you in identifying, finding, citing, and managing information resources.  I am available to work with you individually, in groups, or prepare additional guides or tutorials to assist you.  Feel free to contact me by phone at (478) 301-2031 or via e-mail at rhodes_tp@mercer.edu.

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