Skokie Public Library's Guide to...
ERIC via OCLC FirstSearch

ERIC (Educational Resource Information Center) indexes over one million journal articles and reports in education.  Topics in education include elementary and early childhood education, assessment and evaluation, reading, language, linguistics, education management, and more.  Coverage is from 1966 to the present and the database is updated monthly.

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Why Use ERIC?

ERIC is the premier database of journal and non-journal articles in education literature.  It is an indispensable research tool for students of education, teachers, school and college administrators, and educational policymakers.

Following are examples of the types of questions that could be answered by searching ERIC:

  • I need articles on outcome based education.
  • What is the theory of multiple intelligences?
  • Is there any information out there on rural schools in China?
  • I'm doing a paper on technology in school library media centers.  Does ERIC have articles on that topic?

Searching

Searching

ERIC can be searched using either the Basic, the Advanced, or the Expert Search method.  Full text is available for select articles and publications; watch for entries marked Access Eric Full Text or View Full Text.


Basic Search

The Basic Search is usually used to locate words or concepts in a single index, or "field," such as author name, keyword, or title.  Simply type in a word or two describing your topic, then examine your result list for relevant documents.


Advanced Search

For more complex searches, you can use the Advanced Search, which allows you to search more than one field at a time.  In an Advanced Search, for example, you can search for author and descriptor at the same time, designate a year or range of years, or narrow your search to a particular journal.

Skokie Public Library's configuration of ERIC makes Advanced Search the default search; if you prefer Basic Search or Expert Search, please choose from the gray buttons in the blue bar in the center of the page.


Expert Search

The Expert Search method is designed for experienced searchers who prefer to enter specific search labels and search terms combined with special search characters and Boolean operators such as "and," "or," or "not."


Tips for Effective Searching

  • A plus sign (+) can be added to the end of a word to search for plural and singular forms of a word. For example, the search for outcome+ would retrieve outcome and outcomess.
  • An asterisk (*) can be added to the end of a word to search for multiple forms of a word (including plurals). For example, searching using the word child+ will retrieve articles containing words such as child, children, childrearing, childless, etc.
  • Phrases can be searched by putting the phrase in quotation marks; for example, use "language learning experience" or "emotional intelligence" to search for articles about the cost of living or articles about emotional intelligence, respectively.
  • ERIC has a well-organized help section that can be accessed by selecting the Help icon Help icon at the top right of the screen.

Special Features

ERIC Thesaurus

ERIC has a “controlled vocabulary” of education-related terms called Descriptors that are maintained in the ERIC Thesaurus. Descriptors are used to organize database materials by subject. Use Descriptors in your search to help locate materials of greater relevance to your topic.


Relevance ranking and sorting records

The results of your search will be listed automatically in the order that the records were added to ERIC unless you choose otherwise.  From the initial search screen, you can choose to rank your results by date of publication or by relevance, which is based on how many of your search terms appear in an article, how many times they appear, and how close together they appear.  Relevance ranking will often help you more quickly locate the most appropriate information on your search topic.

If you would like to sort your results by author, title, journal name, or date, you may do so after you have performed your search.  Select the Sort button Sort Icon from the top of the screen and select the appropriate sorting criteria from the pull-down menus.


Index feature

You can use the Index feature Index feature icon to look up a word or phrase in the index to check its usefulness before searching.  This feature helps you to:

  • Verify that a word or phrase exists in an index
  • Check the spelling or spelling variations of a word
  • See how many articles in ERIC contain your word

The Index feature can only be used from the Advanced or Expert Search screens.


Limiting your search

This feature allows you to narrow your search by year, author, and subject.  You can limit your search by selecting the Limit button before or after your search; you can also limit your search from the Advanced or Expert Search screens.


Expanding your search

Related Subjects and Related Authors options gather subject headings and authors from the first fifty articles in your search.  This allows you to find other articles related to your current search by letting you select specific subjects or authors you are interested in.


Combining previous searches

If you have performed extensive searches on different topics and would like to either narrow those searches by adding additional terms or combine your previous searches, you may do this by selecting Previous Searches from the blue bar in the center of the screen.  You must enter one or more searches before you can use this feature.  The Previous Searches feature allows you to: 

  • view a list of your previous searches to see what search words you used
  • view search results for a previous search
  • combine two or more of your previous searches
  • combine new search words with one or more of your previous searches

Listing libraries with item

Click on the link that says Libraries Worldwide to display a list of the libraries that own the magazine or journal that contains the article you have found. Illinois libraries are listed first.  ERIC displays the article citation below the list of libraries.


Skokie Public Library owns item

If Skokie Public Library owns the journal or magazine in which your article appears, an icon will appear at the end of the citation.  This can be helpful when images or other graphics are not reproduced in the electronic form of the article.


What if ERIC Only Has the Citation?

The vast majority of ERIC articles are not available in full text.  Entries marked Access Eric Full Text or View Full Text have the entire article available; entries marked See More Details for Locating This Item are citation entries only, without article text.  If articles you are interested in are not available in full text, check with the librarian at Skokie Public Library's Reference Desk to see if the articles are:

  • Available in print or microfilm at the Library
  • Available in full text through another online database
  • Available from another library

Handling Your Results

Articles and citations from ERIC may be printed or sent to your email account. To reformat your article for printing, select the Print button . Use the Email button to send the document or citation to an email address.

Please note that if the full text of an article is not available through the computer, you will not receive the full text via email.


Other Resources

ERIC is the most comprehensive database available for articles and reports in education.  Use the following resources to help round out your search with articles from more popular publications and from scholarly journals not indexed in ERIC.

  • eLibrary provides easy access to a vast array of general information resources, all in full text.
  • Factiva is an extensive database that includes the full text of articles from thousands of newspapers and business periodicals.
  • ArticleFirst is an index of tables of contents from more than 12,000 journals of science, technology, medicine, social science, business, the humanities, and popular culture.
  • WilsonSelect Plus is an index of more than 1,600 full text journal articles from a variety of popular interest magazines.
  • ERIC is also freely available online at www.eric.ed.gov.

In addition, librarians at Skokie Public Library have selected and compiled the most useful databases and web sites for magazine, newspaper, and journal articles.  Please check the Articles from Magazines & Newspapers category of our Research section for more resources.