ERIC (Education Resources Information Center)
Welcome to the Library. In this quick tutorial we’ll review the education resources information center, or ERIC, a freely available online library of education research and information sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences of the US Department of Education. ERIC contains over 1.4 million citations for journal articles, a majority of which are peer-reviewed, books, research papers, literature reviews and bibliographies, conference papers, technical reports, policy papers, government documents, dissertations and theses, audio-visual media, directories, course syllabi and lesson plans, and other materials in the field of education. Material is gathered from individual contributors, as well as from scholarly organizations, professional associations, research centers, policy organizations, university presses, the US Department of Education and other federal agencies, and state and local agencies. Approximately one-quarter of the complete ERIC collection is available in full text, with coverage dating back to 1966. ERIC is publicly accessible online at eric.ed.gov. However, you can also access ERIC right from the NCU Library. For your convenience, we have provided a link to ERIC on the databases page. To begin, select the A-Z Databases link on the Library’s homepage. Select the letter E and then click the link for ERIC. This is the ERIC homepage. Here ERIC will look for your search terms across a set of key fields: title, author, source, abstract, and descriptor. You can also enter an ERIC accession number, ISBN, or ISSN directly into the search box. You may limit your search to peer-reviewed only and to “Full text available on ERIC.” Since applying these limiters may eliminate valuable records from your search results, it is recommended that you try your search first without the limiters applied. ERIC does not provide an advanced search screen with multiple search boxes as seen in many Library databases. Therefore, all advanced searching must be conducted using the single search line. For example, we can use quotes to group words into specific phrases such as “classroom observation.” Click on the blue search button or hit enter on your keyboard to search. This is the ERIC results screen. Here we can see the number of records retrieved by our search. Ranking of results in ERIC is determined by many factors including the publication date. More recent publications are favored. Using the menu on the left-hand side of the screen, we can narrow our results by publication date, subject, called descriptor here, source, author, publication type, education level, and audience. Click More to see all available categories below a limiter. Some of these limiters are unique to ERIC so use them to your advantage here. For example, education level allows you to scope your search to elementary education or even to a particular grade. If you see “Download full text” in the grey box to the right, then ERIC has permission for you to download the article for free. Simply click on the PDF to access. If you see “Direct link,” typically this means that the full text is not available freely online. In that case, you may copy the article’s title and paste it into the Library’s Roadrunner Search. You simply enter the document title or partial title into the search box and then select Title from the drop-down menu. Then click Submit. Our Roadrunner results show that we have very quickly located the full-text article in the NCU Library. It is important to keep in mind that if the full-text is unavailable, you may request it through InterLibrary Loan. We can also conduct field searches in ERIC by typing in the field name followed by a colon and then our search term with no spaces in between. For example, if we wanted to limit our results to those with the phrase “classroom observation” in the title of the document, we could add the word title followed by a colon. Again click on the blue search button. By applying the title field search, we have narrowed our results dramatically. Additional searchable fields include abstract, audience, author, descriptor, education level, pub year, and source. ERIC also provides a thesaurus containing education-related terms called descriptors which function as subject headings. Using the descripters in your ERIC database searching can help you retrieve records of greater relevance to your topic. Check “Include synonyms” to include thesaurus results that might mean the same thing as the term you entered. A “dead term” is a thesaurus descriptor that used to be included in ERIC but is no longer a current term. If you are looking for historical material, you may find it helpful to check this box. As an example let’s enter the phrase preservice teacher. This time click on the green search button. Our results screen shows two descriptors: Preservice Teacher Education and Preservice Teachers. Let’s select Preservice Teachers. Note the scope note at the top of the screen. This is a brief statement explaining how ERIC uses the term. It may be used to clarify an ambiguous term or to restrict the usage of a term. In our example, we learned that prior to 1998 this concept was sometimes indexed by Student Teachers or Education Majors. You will also see Broader Terms, Narrower Terms, “Use this term instead of,” and Related Terms. Clicking on a link here will take you to the thesaurus page for that particular descriptor. Once you are ready to search using descriptors from the ERIC thesaurus, click “Search collection using this descriptor.” For additional instruction on ERIC, click on the link for Advanced Search Tips to the right of the search button. We hope you enjoy using ERIC. And remember to contact the Library if you have any questions.