ERIC (Education Resource Information Center)

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The ERIC (Education Resource Information Center) database focuses on education resources and literature from a variety of fields and subjects. This tutorial will cover the basics of navigating and searching ERIC.

In the "Databases & Articles" section of the "Find" box on the library's homepage, use the "Select a database" drop-down menu to choose ERIC and click "Go."

Library Homepage - ERIC database

You may be prompted to enter your EUID and password.

ERIC: Basic Searching

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The topics covered in ERIC have an educational slant and include resources from journals, government departments (like the U.S. Department of Education), university programs, professional associations, publishers, and institutional repositories. These sources cover topics like language, history, finance, cognitive processes, and more.

ERIC: Basic Searching

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If we are wanting to find resources that gives teaching ideas for adult learners, there are multiple search terms we can use, like adult learners, teaching, teaching strategies, or the more technical term, andragogy.

Begin by typing adult learners in the top search bar and hit the "Search" button.

Searching "adult learners"

Notice that there are over 13,000 records and not all of them are relevant.

ERIC: Basic Searching

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Let's try getting more specific results by adding teaching to the second search bar and clicking the "Search" button.

Searching "adult learners" AND "teaching"

The number of search results should have decreased (around 4,500) and the resources are more relevant for our information need.

ERIC: Basic Searching

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Let's add our final search term andragogy, which is the technical term for adult education or the method of teaching adult learners. In the third search bar, add andragogy and hit the "Search" button.

Searching ERIC for "adult learners AND teaching AND andragogy"

Notice that the number of search results have dropped to around 200 records.

ERIC: Basic Searching

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Between each of the search terms, there are drop down menus that are automatically set to AND. What happens if we change the ANDs to ORs and do a search? 

Change each AND to OR and hit the "Search" button.

Searching adult learners OR teaching OR andragogy

ERIC: Basic Searching

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We now have 350,000+ results. Why? By switching the Boolean operators, the database finds results that include at least one of the search terms. Although this produced a lot of results, it does not mean that the results are relevant.

If we have a specific information need (how to teach adults), having the database pull articles that generally mention teaching could include resources like teaching children or those who speak a different language.

ERIC: Basic Searching

7 of 9We will want to connect adult learners with teaching by changing the first OR to an AND. This will link both terms and have the database pull resources that mention both, therefore narrowing our results. Since andragogy is similar to the first two terms, we can keep that Boolean operator as an OR.

The search should then say (adult learners AND teaching) OR andragogy.

Searching adult learners AND teaching OR andragogy

Click the "Search" button.

ERIC: Basic Searching

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We now have over 5,000 records because we asked the database to gather resources that used either the first two terms (adult learners AND teaching) or the third term alone (andragogy).

Because the combined terms are similar to andragogy, we are pulling a more comprehensive selection. If an author uses the word andragogy in a paper, it will be included in the results. Similarly, if an author writes about teaching adult learners, but doesn't use the term andagogy, it will also be included in the results.

ERIC: Basic Searching

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Searching with a variety of terms can help you get relevant results, but 5,000 relevant results or even 200 can be overwhelming. We can apply filters to continue to narrow the search.

ERIC: Refining Search Results

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In the left column next to the search results are filters that help refine the resources. In the "Limit To" section, click the "Show More" link to open a pop-up box of filter options.

Refining search results with Show More

ERIC: Refining Search Results

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You can narrow results by choosing options like scholarly or peer reviewed, date, publication type, language, educational level, and intended audience.

Let's select the "Peer Reviewed" option and click the "Search" button for the change to take place.

Peer Reviewed filter

Notice the amount of results has decreased and the filter has been added in the left column under the "Current Search" section.

ERIC: Refining Search Results

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Another way to refine results is to use the left column to filter sections in fields like Source Types.

Let's further refine the selection by moving the "Publication Date" slide bar to include the last five years.

Refining by publication date

As you can see, the number of search results has decreased and the published date has been added to the "Current Search" section.

ERIC: Refining Search Results

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ERIC also has the ability to sort results based on their date, author, source, or relevance.

At the top of the search results page, click on the drop-down menu entitled "Date Newest" and select "Relevance."

Drop-down menu to sort by relevancy

The results are now sorted and should bring the more relevant results to the top of the list.

ERIC: Thesaurus

1 of 6Another way to search is by adding terms from the "Thesaurus." Databases have their own language, or controlled vocabulary, to describe entries in the database and make them searchable. We can use the vocabulary in the Thesaurus to aid our search.

Let's look at the types of subjects ERIC has to offer. At the top of the database homepage, click on the "Thesaurus" tab.

Thesaurus tab

ERIC: Thesaurus

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Looking at the first page of results, you will notice two types of search terms. Preferred subject terms are entries denoted with a check box to the left of the term. The words with a "Use" directive will link to the preferred subject term.

Thesaurus list with preferred and not preferred terms.

ERIC: Thesaurus

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Users can search for terms through the search bar. Let's use the "Browsing: ERIC -- Thesaurus" search bar and see what subjects are available.

  • Type in search bar pedagogy.
  • Select from the options below the bar: "Term Contains" to discover all terms containing our search word.
  • Click the "Browse" button to view the results page.

Thesaurus searching pedagogy

ERIC: Thesaurus

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On the results page, we learn that our search term pedagogy is not a preferred term. Instead, there are options that could be of interest including Student Centered Learning, Instruction, and Place Based Education. What is the difference between these terms?

Click on the term Student Centered Learning to view more detailed information like the definition (or scope) as well as a list of broader, narrower, and related terms.

Click on the "Back to List" link to look at the other two terms.

Detailed information for Student Center Learning

ERIC: Thesaurus

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Let's select the term Instruction this time and use it in a new search.

  • Click on the box left to the term
  • Click the "Add" button
  • Notice the top search bar has populated "DE "Instruction""

Adding Instruction from the thesaurus

ERIC: Thesaurus

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Let's add another search term and see what kind of results we can get.

  • In the search bar type autism and click the "Browse" button.
  • Select the box next to Autism.
  • Use the drop-down menu to change the Boolean operator OR to AND.
  • Click the "Add" button.

Adding Autism search term

The top search bar should now display: (DE "Instruction") AND (DE "Autism"). Click the "Search" button to view your search results.

ERIC: Search Results Page

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On the results page, there are around 10 search results that have been assigned the subject terms Autism and Instruction.

Each result includes: article title, citation, magnifying glass and blue folder icon, other subjects, "PlumX Metrics" tool, and ways to access the article.

Hover or click on the magnifying glass icon to see more information about the article, including the abstract. This view gives you a more detailed summary.

Detailed view of search result

ERIC: Search Results Page

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PlumX Metrics will give more information on the article's usage, captures, mentions, social media, and citations.

PlumX Metrics

By clicking on the PlumX Metrics icon, a user can view more detailed information where the article is mentioned outside the database.

ERIC: Search Results Page

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Some results will also include thumbnails of the images in each resource and a count of how many times the article is cited elsewhere in ERIC.

Thumbnail images

Let's use the first result to look at an article in more detail.

ERIC: Saving and Viewing Articles

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Next to the title of the first result, click on the blue folder to add the article to a folder. Add the second result as well.

Once you have found a desired amount of resources, click on the "Folder View" or the folder icon on the top ribbon of the webpage.

Go to folder view

ERIC: Saving and Viewing Articles

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While working in a database, you can temporarily save articles by storing them in a folder. NOTE: The folder will empty after your session unless you create an ERIC account.

To create an free account, click on the "Sign In" button at the top of the ribbon on the web page.

Sign in button for database

Click on the "Create a new Account" link and follow the steps to complete the process. By creating an account, you will have access to a variety of features including saving preferences, sharing folders, and viewing search history.

ERIC: Saving and Viewing Articles

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Go back to your folder and select a title from your list of articles. This will take you to a detailed version of the resource.

There are tools along the right column that allow you to save, print the page, e-mail, view the citation in a variety of styles, export, share, and link to this resource.

Tools for individual articles

ERIC: Saving and Viewing Articles

4 of 6If you scroll down the page, you can find more detailed information including authors, source, terms (or descriptors), journal codes, abstract, images, as well as the ISSN, URL, and Accession Number.

If you find a good resource, look at the subject terms assigned to it. You can use these terms to expand your current search or start a new one.

List of thesaurus terms or descriptors

ERIC: Saving and Viewing Articles

5 of 6Another interesting feature of ERIC, is to find similar results using a link "Find similar results" in the left column.

Link to find similar results

However, please note that you have less control of the results since the database is searching for you and the number can easily become unmanageable.

ERIC: Saving and Viewing Articles

6 of 6At the top of the left column, you can find access to the full-text article. If UNTHSC has access, there will be an icon and link to download the "PDF Full Text." If UNTHSC does not have access to the resource, there will be a green box that states "Find Full Text."

Options for finding articles

Clicking the green button will redirect to the UNT library website. The new page will state if we have access through a different database or it will prompt you to place a request through interlibrary loan.

ERIC: Conclusion

That's it! You have just completed a basic introduction to searching and navigating the educational database ERIC.

Please contact the Library Research Services Office if you have any questions about this guide, need help with other databases, or would like tips on database/literature searching.

We are available M-F from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at:




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