Indigenous Studies Portal

Welcome to the iPortal Tutorial Module on "Searching Education Resources".

The following are some search tips for finding resources related to Indigenous Education on the iPortal in order to support the writing of a research paper or essay.

Advanced Search screen

Browse Searching:

If the researcher is new to the topic, the best place to start searching is by selecting the Education category on the iPortal homepage. This will take you to a listing of several sub-categories, including Adult Education, Assimilation, Bilingual and Multilingual, Control, Counseling, Cultural Framework, Elders Roles, K-12 (such as for curriculum resources), Leadership, Literacy, Oral Tradition, Post-Secondary, Pre-School, Residential Schools, Retention and Recruitment, Teaching, Technical & Trades, Traditional and Treaty Rights.

If there is a sub-category that is of interest to you (for example, Residential Schools), click on it, and get a sense of the kinds of articles that you obtain as results. Scholarly, peer-reviewed articles are always the first type of resource that is displayed when a researcher browses the categories. Please note that if you are looking for other resource types besides articles, such as images, general articles or theses, these can be selected from the Resource Type tabs located just above the displayed results. Another search tip is that some of the resource types are subdivided into multiple formats. For instance if you are browsing residential schools under the e-book category, please note there will be e-book results that are Chapters in Books, Documents & Presentations (which are mostly organization annual reports); E-books which are mostly open access government reports; and Restricted Access E-books (which are print books that have been digitized by the publisher and purchased by the U of S Library). Click on each of these individual formats to review their respective results.

Keyword Searching

On the other hand, if you know a topic fairly well or if it is specific, such as Residential Schools abuse, then try researching the topic by conducting a keyword search, that is, by typing in the search terms "residential schools abuse" (not necessarily in quotations) in the general search box on the iPortal homepage. The number of results that come up are adequate (but not overwhelming) for determining those that might be relevant for a research paper or an assignment. Another search tip is that these results will be a mixture of resource types, including scholarly articles, general articles (such as in the Windspeaker newspaper), and media (such as online video or film recordings). To narrow the results to display only scholarly articles, redo the keyword search but this time, go to the drop down menu for "Any resource type" and select the "Articles - Scholarly, peer-reviewed" resource type.

Other Ways of Limiting Results:

One other search tip is that some topics may not be specific enough to obtain a reasonable number of results using the general keyword search option. For instance, a search for "residential schools" with any resource type would generate too many results to be helpful. In this case, the number of results can be reduced by choosing a resource type, such as "Article - Scholarly, peer-reviewed", "Images" or "Theses". Or, using the Advanced Search option, typing "residential schools" in the Title field will also reduce the number of results. However, there will still be too many to browse to find resources specific-enough to support your argument or thesis of a research paper.

Another way to narrow results is to limit them by date range, again using the Advanced Search. To illustrate, typing in 1999 in the "after" field and 2012 in the "before" field will limit the results to those published between the year 2000 and 2011.

Also, to reduce results using the Advanced Search option, search by Journal Title. Typing "residential schools" in the Description field and "Windspeaker" in the Journal Title field will limit results to a manageable number but for this particular search, the displayed results will not necessarily be scholarly in nature because Windspeaker is a newspaper.

Searching for results that are specific to a geographic location, like Saskatchewan, will also narrow search results. Using the regular keyword search option and typing "residential schools Saskatchewan", will generate a specific set of results associated with the Province. Please note that although most of these results will discuss Saskatchewan-based residential schools, sometimes results will be in a Saskatchewan-based journal but will be about residential schools from other areas. This is still, however, an effective way to limit results.

Another example would be to add other kinds of search terms to "residential schools", like "survivor" or "settlement", to find resources that are particular to these issues related to residential schools.

Developing a Search Strategy:

One very important tip in searching for iPortal resources is to NOT type in a whole sentence or question when you are conducting keyword searches. The idea is to think of two, three or four words (at most) as search terms that will summarize your research question into a search strategy. For instance, if your research assignment asks you "What are some residual effects of residential schools on residential school survivors?", do not type in the whole question as you will not get any results. Instead, think of three or four words that summarize the question, such as "residential school survivors" or "effects residential schools" (without the quotation marks). After looking at some of the results, you may notice that one primary effect of residential schools on survivors is a lack of parenting skills. As a result, you could try searching "parenting residential schools" (without the quotation marks) and obtain some very specific resources.

iPortal User-Friendly Search Engine - Tips:

Similarly, you do not need to add the word "and" between various concepts in your search strategy (as some databases require you to do) as the iPortal search engine will do this behind the scenes for you. Also, word order is not important when searching in the iPortal. For instance, if you type "schools residential" or "residential schools" in the general search box, you will get the same results. The same is true for singular vs plural forms of words. For instance, if you type in "residential school" or "residential schools", you will get the same results because the iPortal search engine automatically truncates for various versions of the same word, including some results for resources about "residential schooling".


Now using the search tips you have learned from this tutorial, feel free to search other topics related to education. We hope this has been helpful for you.

Ekosi, that's all for now.

P.S. Many of the search tips provided in this Education Resources Tutorial Module can be applied to other categories or areas of research (such as Government, Health, History, Law & Justice, Science & Technology, and Society) in the interdisciplinary field of Indigenous Studies.

Prepared by Deborah Lee & Phoenix Rider, August 2011
with updates by L. O'Grady and A. St-Jacques, November 2015

Video Tutorial