Lesson S-3

ERIC: To Find Scholarly 
Literature Related to Education

ERIC is the single best index to scholarly and professional literature in education.  It  now indexes and annotates or abstracts a total of more than 1 million journal articles, monographs, reports, and books. Its coverage of education is broad and deep, from preschool to higher education, from curriculum and counseling to school finance and policy.  ERIC indexes almost 1,000 journals, dating back to 1996. It comprehensively indexes most of the main journals in education and also selectively indexes education-related articles in the major journals of other fields such as psychology, sociology, and economics. ERIC also has arrangements with more than 2,000 organizations to receive their monographs, reports, conference papers, and other publications for review and possible indexing. 


  • ERIC's coverage of the education literature is far greater than any other index.
  • ERIC permits complex searches.  Each resource is assigned standardized "Descriptors" by professional indexers.  The full set of descriptors is specified in the "Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors".  ERIC can also search words and phrases in the annotation or abstract that ERIC stores for each resource.
  • Although ERIC currently provides only a small number of full text documents online, most documents indexed by ERIC, except the journal articles and books, can be ordered in microfiche or hard copy from the ERIC Document Reproduction Service at http://www.edrs.com.  Many large university libraries, including GWU, have this microfiche collection.
  • Each year the ERIC system produces about 100 brief reviews of  research on topics of high interest to practitioners.  The full text of these "ERIC Digests" is available online at  http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/index/ .
  • ERIC also maintains a "Calendar of Education-Related Conferences" at http://webprod.aspensys.com/education/ericconf/eric_cal/SearchForm.asp.
  • The main weakness of ERIC is that it provides few full text documents online.  Some of the the documents are available online in full text from other sources, but ERIC doesn't currently tell you which ones and at what URL.  (See Lesson S-9 for how to find the full text of some journals and other publications online.)
  • ERIC indexes only a few dissertations.  Most dissertations are covered by UMI Dissertation Abstracts (See Lesson S-6).
Trail Guide

The following resources will help you get started using ERIC in a powerful and efficient manner. 

  1. The main ERIC Web site is at http://www.accesseric.org   It provides detailed information about the ERIC system and links to four Web-based search engines, but little information on how to do an ERIC Search. 
  1. The AskERIC Web site at http://ericir.syr.edu/Eric/ provides free access to the entire ERIC database going back to 1966.  It includes fairly good instructions on how to search ERIC from that site. 
  1. The ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education has produced a great interactive tutorial for learning to use the AskERIC site.  It will help you become moderately proficient at doing ERIC searches in less than two hours. Try it out at: http://www.eriche.org/Workshops/searching.html
  1. ERIC can also be accessed by GW students by going to the Gelman Library home page, clicking on "Databases", then clicking on "ALADIN 'Article and Other Databases'", selecting "Alphabetical List" and finally clicking on "ERIC (education)". The advantage to doing this is that it connects you to the OVID metasearch engine which allows up to four other database searches in conjunction with your ERIC search.  For more information on OVID, see Lesson S-9.
First Aid

If you encounter trouble when doing ERIC searches, review the above Trail Guides again.  If that doesn't help, try your reference librarian.  If he or she can't help, contact the search specialists at AskERIC, indicating very specifically what you have been trying to find and what you tried unsuccessfully.  The search specialist can be reached by e-mail at askeric@ericir.syr.edu or through a form at http://ericir.syr.edu/Qa/userform.html

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Last Update: September 8, 2000 Link to the George Washington UniversitySend feedbackLink to Education Policy Page