ProQuest Education


proquest s s

Image created by author. (2016) CC by 2.0


ProQuest is an American Library database which requires a researcher to use terms that are of an American context when searching. Whilst I haven’t used this database before, the terminology side of things is easier as I am working in an American school. So far I have been really excited by my last two search engines as I have found some interesting articles related to my question:

  1. How should a library be involved with all classes in their inquiries? Key words: inquiry and elementary and library.

I was excited to see what I would find in ProQuest that maybe different. Using the same keywords I commenced my search to see what information and ideas I could find. ProQuest has some of its own operators which I explored throughout the search process – using proximity of words with the NEAR/# function, ? for truncation of words, plus many other options on the initial search page to help narrow a search e.g. peer reviewed, full text, publication date etc. It also displays a “related search” that shows a reader options of other words that they can explore, and easily access another line of thinking. I found the Basic Search option beneficial for me for this searching process as I could use the operators effectively in this tab.

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Screenshot and Annotation by author.


Search String Results My Thoughts/Comments

“inquiry learning” AND elementary AND library


276 results (with peer reviews)

This search shown was like “gold” for me. Whilst there were articles included that I had seen before on other search engines, there were a few new ones too. The articles were able to give me strong points of view. The authors were names I had seen previously and as the articles I had specifically searched for were peer reviewed, I knew I had some credibility.



inquiry NEAR/3 learning NEAR/3 elementary NEAR/3 library



2 results

By adding in the NEAR/3 I was asking ProQuest to find documents with my search terms in any order but within 3 words of each other. The two documents found were of interest to me both professionally and as a researcher for this process. Screenshot 1.

inquiry PRE/3 learning PRE/3 curiosity



34 results

This time I used the operator  PRE/3 – asking ProQuest to find documents with one term in a specified number of another term. Many results found however not really a successful search for my research, although interesting reading all the same. Screenshot 2

“inquiry learning” AND elementary AND librar?


2675 results (with full text)


This search displays the use of ProQuest’s truncation ? format. This allows my searches to look for any word with the beginning librar – hoping to find library and librarian in my sources provided. It was successful. Another great range of source types to explore. It is noted that the search shown earlier was probably “more” successful for me and my findings as I had limited the search by actually using the word library, and therefore the results were less. Screenshot 3

The screenshots below show the examples found, and use of ProQuest’s operators in play.


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Screenshot and Annotation by author – Screenshot 1.



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Screenshot and Annotation by author – Screenshot 2


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Screenshot and Annotation by author – Screenshot 3.



I really enjoyed using this search engine. Maybe because of the stage of the search string process I am in, I have a better understanding of how to use most operators. ProQuest’s “source types” were beneficial for me as I chose some information to read based on this icon. I was interested to see how the search strings from previous operators worked within this search engine, in relation to many ProQuest articles coming up in the other databases. This cross-over didn’t happen so much relating back to other search engines. This is a search engine I probably will use again as I work in an American school so the terminology is applicable. The articles changed my thought processes from the curiosity path (diversion that happened in a few other search strings) back to thinking about the role of a librarian helping instil this curiosity, with relation to library access for all, and inquiry.


Advantages: Relatively easy to use; like the format of showing the source types; able to find relevant articles by using the Basic Search; scholarly articles; peer reviews and other formulas for narrowing your results if desired; option to use an Advanced Search tab is wanted.


Disadvantages: Times out;  free access only for those through the dedicated university library site; American terminology specific for some areas;


New Questions:

  1. How as a teacher-librarian can I re-educate my fellow teaching peers as to the benefits of a more collaborative approach to inquiry in library lessons, rather than a stand-alone session each week?

And in light of this……

2. Is there benefit for a librarian to run their “own” library inquiry lessons to help equip the students of today to be inquirers in all facets of their learning?






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