About Citation Tools:
Citation Data for Education

Which citation databases are best for educational research?
That depends....what are you trying to do?

If you are searching for content,
e.g., articles on a topic your choice of databases will depend on how thorough you need to be, and the nature of your topic (is it interdisciplinary, for example). Web of Science, ERIC, and Academic Search Premier are good places to start.  Google Scholar is especially useful if you have a somewhat arcane topic.

However, another approach is to evaluate how well each of these resources covers your topic.  Later in this unit you will have the chance to make some comparisons for yourself.   The Reflection & Resources page also includes links to several studies evaluating resources for education topics.

  • One way of doing this is by comparing how well a tool covers the journals in your field.  Which education journals are covered?  How many education-related titles are covered? Others have a compared database results by using test searches in different tools and comparing results.
  • Another factor to consider is the type of documents covered.  All these resources index journal articles.  Web of Science also has fairly good coverage of books and conference proceedings. Traditionally, the discipline of education research relied heavily on books, but the trend over recent years is towards journal articles.
If you want use the citation linking activity to look at bibliographies, to find articles that cite an older, but important paper, and to explore the network of relationships to find information in different ways.  Most citation databases can show you a list of articles citing a specific paper. But Web of Science offers the best and most extensive options for looking at article bibliographies.

If you want to obtain as much citation data as possible for a specific paper, or an author (e.g., for a tenure or promotion packet). In this case, you should use all the citation resources available, including the major ones such as Web of Science and Google Scholar, as well as other resources like JSTOR, Academic Search Premier, etc.  Be careful to look at all the data to remove duplicate information.

If you want to analyze results or download information
into a citation management tool. Web of Science has the most sophisticated options for manipulating search results (like sorting by times cited), analyzing search results, and downloading information into different tools.  Most databases and publisher cites offer decent options for downloading information, except for Google Scholar.
However, no one database covers educational research (or other disciplines) comprehensively.  Thus it is necessary, if one wants to be as thorough as possible, to use all available citation data sources.

NEXT: Review & Exercise