I wish it were possible for our bibliographic databases to index works according to the methodology or theoretical approach of the author. I know it’s not possible in many cases, but man oh man I wish it were. For a lot of undergraduates, finding examples of scholars employing a methodology or approach is high up there on the list of information needs, and it’s just not something that search can really help with.
So what do you do when a student comes and needs an example of a Marxist reading of The Wasteland or a post-structuralist reading of The Between? What about students who want to see examples of formal lab write-ups, or those formal research papers that actually use the prescribed headings Introduction… Methodology… etc? Part of the learning process is seeing accomplished researchers employing the forms that are taught in the undergraduate classroom, so for these students methodology and approach is a very real form of content to be sought, found, and analyzed.
Personally, I’ve developed some inefficient work-arounds for some of the questions I get most often. Try searching for research articles that have “study of” in the title… people likely to put “study of” in their research reports are also likely to use the traditional subheadings. And for the theoretical-approach question, I keep an anthology of the major literary theorists in my office and then do this complicated thing where I do a cited reference search in Web of Knowledge for an appropriate theorist, then I do a search for the topic or author or work we’re trying to interpret, and then I combine the two searches. Sometimes that works fabulously… sometimes it flops. But at least it’s something. (Of course, this doesn’t work very well at all if you’re trying to find an example of close reading… since close readers often only cite the work they’re reading, er, closely.)
‘Tis a puzzle. It’s one of those examples of a very common kind of research task (for my population, at least) that cannot be solved without quite a bit of prior disciplinary knowledge. Search, just by itself, will almost always fail.