Before you start

Before searching the education databases please take some time to develop a search strategy using the concept map below.

You can brainstorm concepts and also find new keyword terms as you begin searching different databases.


Think about different ways to describe the topic you are researching. You may need to repeat your searches using different variations.

Alternative terms for education sectors

  • early childhood, infants, babies, toddlers, preschool, kindergartens

  • primary, elementary, K-6, (K-12 for primary and secondary together)

  • intermediate, middle school, junior high

  • secondary, high school, post-primary

  • tertiary, higher education, universities, colleges, post-compulsory

Alternative terms for key topics

  • assessment, evaluation, testing

  • ICT, mobile learning, e-learning, web-based learning

  • attitudes, perceptions, perspectives, beliefs

Concept mapping

List your alternative keyword terms by concept to systematically construct multiple searches.

For example, if your topic is "secondary school teachers' attitudes to ICT" you might map the key concepts as below.

Concept 1 Concept 2 Concept 3
ICT "secondary teachers" attitudes
"mobile learning" "high school teachers" perceptions
e-learning "post-primary teachers" perspectives
"web-based learning"   beliefs

From the table above you would enter one keyword from each column in successive combinations, criss-crossing combinations to exhaust all possible combinations if needed.

It is worthwhile to use "speech marks" around two or more word phrases to ensure you do not get erroneous results based on just one of the words, but you can also try without speech marks too:

  • e.g. ICT AND "secondary teachers" AND attitudes; e-learning AND high school teachers AND beliefs, etc.

The words or terms within each concept column can be linked using or to give the database choices:

  • e.g. ICT OR "mobile learning" OR e-learning OR "web-based learning", etc.

Sometimes the database will provide combinations in a drop-down menu and you can create complex search formulas if you wish (the square brackets are just to distinguish between each combination):

  • e.g. [ICT OR "mobile learning" OR e-learning OR "web-based learning"] AND "secondary teachers" AND [attitudes OR perceptions OR perspectives OR beliefs]

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To begin your research, use handbooks, encyclopedias and guides to help define your terms:

To find others, use the Catalogue and enter your subject plus the word handbook or encyclopedia.

Use the Catalogue to find material in the University of Auckland Library’s collection of books, journals, theses, television programmes and conference proceedings. Follow these research tips to find education material.

Full list of databases for Education.

Ministry of Education

Curriculum and policy

Key curriculum documents

Key policy documents

  • New Zealand strategies and policies
    Policy on Ministry of Education website. Includes Ka Hikitia: Accelerating success: Māori education strategy, Pasifika Education Plan, Tau Mai te Reo.

To find additional curriculum or policy documents search by the exact title in the Catalogue or use the web links below:

New Zealand curriculum documents are listed in the Catalogue.
Many are available online or in Short Loan (click on 'Find in library').

New Zealand education news

New Zealand organisations and centres

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Choosing a methodology

Consult your supervisor about methodologies to use in your research. These resources may be helpful for understanding and evaluating methodologies.

Faculty of Education and Social Work resources

  • Research strengths
    Describes Faculty of Education and Social Work research strengths to help guide your choice of Education methodologies.
  • Finding a supervisor
    Research interests and preferred methodologies of particular supervisors.
  • Quant-DARE
    Quantitative data analysis and research support at the Faculty of Education and Social Work.

Finding books and articles

You can search these examples of Library of Congress Subject Headings in the Catalogue or try your own combinations:


Use search terms to find digitised theses at the University of Auckland and other tertiary institutions on the Catalogue

  • Enter your chosen methodology into the search box, then use the filters to choose doctoral or masters. Read the abstract to ensure the thesis has the methodology you are searching for. This is because a keyword search is not a methodology-only search.
  • To find theses from other institutions you can use You will not be able to limit to a methodology-only search. You will need to check the abstract or the full-text for the methodology used.

A list of exemplary theses completed recently at the Faculty of Education and Social Work may also be useful for considering different methodologies.

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The Faculty of Education and Social Work uses the American Psychological Association APA style.



  • Referencing
    Access a range of tools and support material to assist your referencing work.


  • Quick©ite
    Use this interactive tool to view examples of references.
    Covers a range of styles used at the University of Auckland.

Last updated : 19 April 2021
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