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Course Research Guides

Final Project: Choosing an Innovation Based on the Evidence

For those students working on the C490 Online – Final Project, welcome to this helpful reference guide!

Here you'll find: 

  • Helpful research definitions 

  • Using "mind maps" to narrow a topic and create keywords

  • Tips & tricks for searching through library databases

  • Help with evaluating sources

Before you start your searches:

Here is a refresher on key definitions that will help in meeting the research requirements for the C490 Final Paper.

Intervention Study:
  • Intervention studies are program evaluations; they are used to determine whether or not a program was effective. 
  • Definition from from the U.S. National Library of Medicine:
    • "A type of [study] in which participants are assigned to groups that receive one or more intervention/treatment (or no intervention) so that researchers can evaluate the effects of the interventions on [the] outcomes. The assignments are determined by the study's protocol. Participants may receive diagnostic, therapeutic, or other types of interventions".
  • Be careful! Sometimes an intervention study can be confused with....
    • A Feasibility/Satisfaction Study: Answering the questions, do people like the program? Will they do it?
    • A Correlational Study: there is no program or intervention, the research examines variables that already exist in people.
Empirical Studies in the Social Sciences and Education :
  • Empirical research is derived from actual experience rather than theory, whether that be conducting the surveys, studies in groups of people, or observing and measuring data from a program that has been implemented. 
  • A question to ask yourself when looking at sources is, "did the author(s) do the observation/data collection themselves to reach the research outcome?"
  • You can also look out for the following key characteristics of an empirical study: 
    1. Abstract
    2. Introduction
    3. Methodology
    4. Results
    5. Discussion
  • Watch this video on how to break down and read empirical research.

Brainstorming: Mind Maps

What are "mind maps"?

A mind map is an organic plan that does not require strict structure to help you take everything you know about a topic and put it onto a visual diagram in front of you. The information you might jot down can be what you already know about the topic through the news, social media, conversations with friends and colleagues, and previous classes you have taken. Mind maps are especially helpful to narrow down or mold your topic into something more specific (ex: "restorative justice" to the "effectiveness of K-12 restorative justice programs in reducing racially disproportionate discipline").

Mind Maps can also help you think of useful keywords to type in the search bar when looking for articles on Google Scholar, library databases, etc. Keywords can be anything such as:

  • Organizations (ex: CDC, National Head Start Association)
  • Groups of people (ex: LGBTQ+ teens, infants, parents, high school dropout)
  • Key people (ex: Maria Montessori, Erik Erikson)
  • Locations (a specific region of the U.S.? Is it an international program or in the U.S?)
  • Dates (Any important dates that relate to your topic)
  • Specialized Keywords (Any terms that are mainly used in your subfield or topic, not common terms)

You can make a mind map on anything, like an online app (Word) or on a piece of paper, it doesn't have to look perfect!

Articles & Databases

Below are a few video tutorials and helpful guides for finding scholarly articles in our Library databases and on Google Scholar. 

Library Databases

These guides and tutorials help you understand how library databases work and how to find scholarly articles in our most popular databases. For help using a database not listed here, feel free to contact the librarians! We can help you navigate these websites, or direct you to additional support tutorials from each library database. 

What is the "Get It" Button? 

Search with Google Scholar

Looking for a specific article? Try using Google Scholar!

Type the title of the article, an author's name, or keywords into the search box below to connect with resources available through the Library on Google Scholar. 

Look for the “Find-text @ Erikson" link next to each result. You can then access the article via the Library's subscriptions. 


Google Scholar logo  


You can also configure Google Scholar to show you full-text results on any device by linking Erikson Institute and Google Scholar. 

Evaluating Sources

Especially if you're conducting a search using Google Scholar or another search engine, use the SIFT method from Michael Caulfield to better analyze the article. 




Watch this video on how to use the SIFT method when searching for sources online