How the Clearinghouse finds evidence
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Evidence hierarchy: How the Clearinghouse finds evidence

Finding information that will inform content on the Professional Learning Clearinghouse requires a systematic search strategy.

For each research task:

  • Parameters of the search are defined by topic, purpose and audience.
  • Relevant education and social sciences databases are selected. The databases are EBSCO Academic Search Complete, Education Fulltext, PsychInfo, ERIC, Proquest Education, INFORMIT A+ Education, Humanities and Social Sciences. Google Scholar as well as the websites of authoritative organisations are also searched to capture ‘grey literature’ or unpublished literature.
  • Keywords are selected and searched for in the abstract or title fields. In addition, the databases thesauri are searched to identify specific subject terms. Combinations of search terms are used to ensure relevant studies are not missed. For example, a number of terms can be used for professional learning including professional development, communities of practice, professional learning communities, professional networks, teacher networks, online communities etc.
  • The search is refined to identify specific study types eg. meta-analysis, systematic review, evidence-based, longitudinal, randomised controlled trial, effect size etc.
  • The search results are evaluated with particular attention to research methodology. Those studies displaying methodological weaknesses are eliminated. The reference lists are scrutinised and promising citations are followed up and evaluated.