Searching ERIC

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In this tutorial, you will learn how to find articles using the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC). This database contains material from over 1,000 education-related journals and ERIC documents from 1966-present.

Use the arrows below to navigate through the tutorial.

Locate ERIC

Using the page to your right, select ERIC.

You may be prompted to enter your UA NetID and password.

You are now in ERIC.

Identify Keywords

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Your instructor has assigned a project in which you must develop a lesson plan for a classroom. You have to base your lesson plan on at least one article that demonstrates the practical application of an educational theory in the classroom.

Since you are studying history education, you decide to focus on educational strategies for teaching history to upper elementary school students.

Identify Keywords

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The first step in a successful search is to identify keywords. Keywords are important words or phrases that describe your research topic and will help you find relevant articles.

Based on this research topic, what are the most important keywords?

Search ERIC

1. Type these keywords into the first ERIC search box: history instruction elementary school

2. Click Search

How many results did you get?

Revise Your Search

ERIC provides access to more than 1.4 million records of education-related materials, so there must be more items out there related to your topic. Let’s revise our search!

Like many databases, ERIC defaults to phrase searching. If words are not separated with a connector such as AND, the database will search your words as one phrase. Using AND tells the database to search for and retrieve articles that contain all of your keywords anywhere in the document.

To revise this search, you will need to add the connector AND in between the words or phrases in your search.

1. Click Clear, located to the right of the search box:


2. In the first search box, type: history AND instruction AND elementary school

3. Click Search

How many results did you get?

Refine Your Results with Advanced Search

Adding AND significantly increased our search results, but now we have the opposite problem! There might be some useful articles on this list, but sorting through thousands of results would take forever.

Now try refining your search to get more focused results.

1. Click Advanced Search (located beneath the ERIC search boxes):

advanced search

2. Scroll down to find the box Educational Level. Since you are focusing on upper elementary school students, you want to limit your results to Grades 4 – 6. Scroll down to locate Grade 4, Grade 5, and Grade 6. Click and drag your cursor to select all three grades, then release.

3. In the box Intended Audience, use the scroll bar to locate and select Students and Teachers.

4. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Search:


How many results did you find?

Evaluate Search Results

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1. Find the Publication Date slider located on the left-hand side of the page.

What is the earliest publication date in your result list?

Evaluate Search Results

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1. Skim the titles of your search results and locate the article Investigating Ghost Towns: Activities for Upper Elementary and Middle School Students.

2. Look at the icon to the left of the article title.

What type of source is this?

Evaluate Search Results

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ERIC contains a number of Source Types, including Research Reports.

1. Hover your cursor over the magnifying glass icon to read the article’s abstract:


What are the first few words of the article’s abstract?

Evaluate Search Results

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After skimming the abstract, might this article (Investigating Ghost Towns: Activities for Upper Elementary and Middle School Students) be useful for your research project (history instruction for elementary school students)?

Evaluate Search Results

1. Click the link HTML Full Text to view the entirety of the article.

2. Scroll down the page to skim the article contents.

What is the first sentence under the section Capitalizing on Curiosity?

Use Bibliographies to Find More Articles

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You decide to use this article for your research paper, and you'd like to see if the journal that published this article has more like it.

1. Scroll back up to the top of the page until you reach the bibliographic information listed next to Title:

bibliographic info

What is the name of the journal in which this article is published?

Use Bibliographies to Find More Articles

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Next, click Advanced Search at the top of the page.

Note: Each time you return to Advanced Search, your previous limiters (such as Education Level and Audience) will be reset.

In the section titled Limit your results, locate the search box labeled Journal Name. In the search box, type in social studies. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and then click Search.

How many results did you get?

Locate Articles with ERIC Thesaurus

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You can also locate articles using the ERIC Thesaurus. The thesaurus contains a controlled vocabulary of subject terms that represent the content of the article. Each article indexed by ERIC is assigned a number of subject terms, and each subject term represents one concept.

Since one concept may be described by multiple words, subject terms help take out some of the guesswork involved in locating relevant articles.

Let’s try a new search.

Locate Articles with ERIC Thesaurus

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1. Scroll up to the top of the page and click Clear.

2. Click Thesaurus, located in the top left hand section of the page:


The search box at the top of the page searches the entire ERIC database. Since we’re just interested in thesaurus, we want to avoid that search box for now.

3. Locate the second search box labeled Browsing: ERIC -- Thesaurus. This is where we’ll browse for subject terms, which we can later use to search for articles:

thesaurus search box

Locate Articles with ERIC Thesaurus

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Your Educational Psychology instructor has assigned a research paper about a current societal problem in education. Your must find 3 – 5 scholarly articles to use for your paper.

After talking with your instructor, you decide to research the effectiveness of school intervention programs on bullying.

Based on your research question (Are intervention programs an effective way to address bullying in schools?) which of the following words best represent the major concepts of this topic?


Search Subject Terms

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Subject terms are listed in alphabetical order. The easiest way to search the ERIC thesaurus is to type in a term and hit Browse:


1. Type bullying into the second search box and hit Browse. You will find that Bullying is indeed a subject term in the ERIC thesaurus.

2. Click Bullying to learn more about this subject term.

The Scope Note explains and clarifies what is meant and what is not meant in the definition of the term.

Broader and Narrower Terms refer to more general class or more specific subclasses of the term.

Related Terms list associative descriptors - terms that are related, but not quite synonymous.

What is the Scope Note for the subject term Bullying?

Search Subject Terms

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1. Check the box next to Bullying and then click Add:


This tells ERIC to search for articles in which Bullying is a key concept.

2. Look up at the first search box at the top of the page. You will find that DE “Bullying” now appears in the box. But before we do that search, we need to search the thesaurus for our other term.

3. Return to the second search box and delete bullying. Next, type in intervention and click Browse. Check the box next to Intervention.

We want to find articles that have both subject terms bullying and intervention. In order to do this, which of the following words should we use to connect these terms?

Search Subject Terms

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1. In the dropdown box labeled Select term, then add to search using, select the connector AND:


2. Click Add.

What search string appears at the top of the page in the search box titled Searching: ERIC?

Search Subject Terms

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In the beginning of a subject term search, it’s better to start off with 1 – 2 terms and see what results you get. If necessary, you can always refine your search results by adding another subject term.

1. Click Search.

How many results did you get?

Keywords vs. Subject Terms

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You may wonder how searching by subject terms differs from keyword searching. Let’s find out!

1. At the top of the page hit Clear. This will erase the current search (DE "Bullying") AND (DE "Intervention") from the search box. (You will be able to easily retrieve this search later on.)

2. Type in bullying AND intervention. Click Search.

How many results did you get?

Keywords vs. Subject Terms

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Why do you think the keyword search yielded different results from the subject term search?

Retrieve Searches

Let’s return to the previous search.

1. Click Clear to remove this search from your page.

2. Click the link Search History (located near the top of the page):

search history

A new box will appear labeled Search History/Alerts.

3. Locate the search (DE “Bullying”) AND (DE “Intervention”).

4. Click the link View Results:

view results

NOTE: You may want to collapse the Search History box at this time. Scroll back up to the top of the page and locate the Search History link. To close out this area, click the downward arrow next to the link:

close search history

Refine Results by Publication Date and Peer Reviewed

This search retrieved records dating back to 1980 and includes peer reviewed articles. These articles are written for an academic or scholarly audience.

You need to find recent, scholarly articles. Let’s refine our results by Publication Date and Peer Reviewed.

1. In the area labeled Limit To, adjust the mini slider to find articles published between 2010-2011. Notice that the results are automatically updated.

publication update

2. Select the box next to Peer Reviewed.

How many results did you get?

Evaluate Your Results

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1. Scroll down to locate this article: Why Interventions to Reduce Bullying and Violence in Schools May (Or May Not) Succeed: Comments on This Special Section.

2. Look at the subject terms of this article (located next to Subjects). You will find the subject terms Bullying, Intervention, and several more ERIC Thesaurus terms that represent key concepts of the article.

What is the FIRST subject term listed for this article?

Evaluate Your Results

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Click on the title of the article to view the full record.

What is the name of the journal that published this article?

When was this article published?

Cite Your Source

After reading Why Interventions to Reduce Bullying and Violence in Schools May (Or May Not) Succeed you decide this article will be a good source for your research paper, but you’re not sure how to cite it.

1. Locate the vertical toolbar located on the right side of the page 

2. Click the Cite icon:


What is the first citation format on the list?

NOTE: It's very important to double-check each citation to make sure it has been formatted correctly. Details such as capitalization, punctuation, italicization, or date order may be incorrect.

3. Click the X in the top right hand corner to close out the Citation Format box:

close citation

Find More Articles

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You would like find out if there are any more articles by the author Peter Smith about this research topic.

1. Scroll up to the top of the screen and click the link Advanced Search.

2. In the search box located under (DE “Bullying”) AND (DE “Prevention”) type in smith, peter.

3. In the dropdown box on the right select AU Author.

4. Click Search.

How many results did you get?

Find More Articles

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How might you find more scholarly articles on your research topic (Are intervention programs an effective way to combat bullying in schools?)



Congratulations! You have now completed the University of Arizona Libraries’ ERIC tutorial.


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