Play on ProQuest like a pro!

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?

Albert Einstein


ProQuest was another new data base that this unit has given me cause to access and learn more about. Einstein’s quote above so rightfully articulated my feelings about all of this searching. The more I have learned about Boolean operators, subject searching and using the advanced options the more I have been able to find relevant materials that I can incorporate into my annotated bibliography. This data base seemed different to the others I had used and I found my searches to become increasingly well refined and more relevant. I registered myself with a research account and have found this to be invaluable as it can save search strings, articles and then turn all of this into a detailed citation list.

The search strings seen in my YouTube clip included Boolean operators such as AND, OR and NOT, the utilisation of my personal account, accessing articles via other sources, parenthesis and truncation. Below are the screen shots of initial searches on ProQuest. In figure one you cans see the initial search string was also used in past expert searches. However in figure two the search was improved and better refined due to the use of a subject search.

ProQuest Search 1

Figure 1 – ProQuest Search 1

ProQuest Search 2

Figure 2 – ProQuest Search 2

The search stings used in this analysis were from basic and advanced searches and the whole analysis can be located in this Pro Quest Search String document. Or seen in the table below.

Figure 1: ProQuest Search Strings

Figure 1: ProQuest Search Strings

Search String



(primary OR elementary) science (“inquiry learning” OR “guided inquiry”) 4808Tags: Guided inquiry, primary and science all strong This search was a good start but the articles were mainly American dissertations and theses with the Kuhlthau text in first location. This use of subject term first might need to be put at the end to signify the difference in strength. I had learnt from previous searches that the use of quotation marks would keep phrases together and parenthesis keep the like terms grouped also.
(primary OR elementary) science (“inquiry learning” OR “inquiry based learning OR “guided inquiry”) 3609Tags: elementary, inquiry and science all strong This search enabled me to put the emphasis upon inquiry but was still too broad in the area of sciences where sociology was still being referred to. The American links were still predominant. I need to think carefully on where the science string is located.
(guided inquiry) AND (information search process OR inquiry learning) AND (science* OR primary science) 784Tags: learning, guided inquiry, science, inquiry process, primary, information This search was too big as I had not used quotation marks and had 171892Hits. This unfortunately accounts for the huge number of hits. The use of truncation again enabled the sciences area to be increased where sciences would be included.

Doing the same search with the red changes refined the search to 784 articles where there was a marked increase in credibility, timeliness and scholarly materials.

su(primary OR elementary) science su(“inquiry learning” OR “inquiry based learning OR “guided inquiry”) 4Tags: learning, guided inquiry, science, primary This subject search really refined the process and has enabled me to find 2 more very relevant sources based on their tags. However, after more searching the Chen article is not accessible. The Inquiry Learning article is 254 pages long and due to time will not be something I pursue.  Another is about bilingual students – not my subject. This was perhaps too specific and subject specific in hindsight.
(“guided inquiry” OR “information search process”) AND (science OR primary science) 3587Tags: guided inquiry, science, primary, ISP This was a good broad search with many tags to the search terms in connected phrasing due to the use of quotation marks and parenthesis. The links to the ISP are very strong in this search and the top 15 all list this as a part of the article. All are scholarly in type and available as PDF files. 
(Guided Inquiry) OR (inquiry learning OR information search process) AND sciences NOT (physics OR chemistry) 9Tags:

guided inquiry, science, learning,

This search string was formulated via the advanced search options and was a useful search as many articles were already saved to my research list on ProQuest.

Feeling ever so much more the researcher I know I still have a lot to learn but the reality is learning is a life time journey and one I am proud to say I will persevere with as I am a persistent and patient person. I feel like I played on ProQuest like a pro and will continue to refine my searching skills my whole life through – especially as technology moves ahead in leaps and bounds.


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