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Searching ERIC

Before You Begin

  • What's in ERIC?
    ERIC is an educational database that indexes journals, magazines, conference proceedings, research reports and other documents. It is the single best source for locating educational journal articles. There are two types of documents in ERIC:
    • EJ documents (journal and magazine articles)
    • ED documents (research reports, conference papers, selected government documents and others)

  • How do I search ERIC?
    • Go to the Education Journal and Newspaper Databases page on the Lovejoy Library Web site here
    • You can search ERIC through two search engines: OVID and FirstSearch. FirstSearch is the only one with access to full text.

Developing Your Search

When searching for articles in education, you might be tempted to turn to this database, plug in your search terms, and take the first likely-looking article you run across. However, that is neither a thoughtful nor a critical way to do research.
  • First things first
    You have a research question of some sort. Write that down on paper. For example, Do programs like Head Start improve reading scores later on? Break that question into major concepts, in this case, head start, reading scores, and reading improvement.

  • Next things next
    ERIC uses a Thesaurus to index articles. You need to find out if your major concepts match up with their search terms. Each search engine works a little differently.
    • FirstSearch
      Click on the Subjects button, to the left, above the yellow box. Type in your term, click on Expand to see related terms.
    • OVID
      Type your term in the Keyword box. OVID will automatically map your term to the closest Subject Headings. You can mark one or more of these to search.

Doing Your Search

  • Once you have a list of terms for each concept you can begin searching.
    • In OVID, it's easy to combine similar search terms (middle schools, intermediate grades, junior high) into a large set. Simply, click on the terms you want after entering a term in the Keyword box. For your second concept, type another term in the Keyword box and click on the related terms. When you have several sets, click on the Combine icon at the top of the page.
    • In FirstSearch, it's a little more difficult. Type your search term in the box on the left. Open up the box on the right and click on Descriptors (for one word) Descriptors Phrase (for two words). If you have several similar terms, you can combine them by clicking the or button on the side. All searches are saved by the Previous Searches function. You can combine similar terms to create large sets. Then, you can combine sets by clicking on Previous Searches.

  • What if my search term isn't in the thesaurus?
    You can enter your term as a keyword. Look over the list of citations and abstracts. When you find one that looks relevant, scroll down to the bottom until you see the heading, Descriptors. There will be a list of thesaurus terms. You can use these to further your search

  • What if I get too many hits?
    You can limit your results. Every ERIC record has a grade descriptor. These include; early childhood education, elementary education, middle schools, secondary education, higher education and others. You can enter these as search terms. Searches can be limited to only journal and magazine articles by clicking on the CIJE button (Document Type in FirstSearch). Clicking on the RIE button will limit your search to mostly conference papers and association publications (ED documents).

  • Can I limit my search to research articles?
    Yes, first you have to click on the CIJE button.
    • In OVID, you must then enter your search term. Click on the Limit icon at the top of the screen. Go to the Publications Type box and click on Research and Technical Reports.
    • In FirstSearch, you can enter your search term as a subject or descriptor. Then, type in Educational Research and click on Minor Descriptors Phrase. You can limit this further by using Qualitative Research or Statistical Analysis instead of Educational Research.

Finding Results at Lovejoy Library and Beyond

  • Marking and printing records
    As you scroll through the list of citations and abstracts click on the box next to each record that looks promising. When you're done, click on the Show Marked Records button on the left side of the screen (in FirstSearch), or the Display button on the right side of the screen (in OVID). Click on the print icon at the top of the screen.

  • Finding articles
    After you have a list of citations, you'll want to find out which journals are in Lovejoy Library and whether they're in print or microfiche. Go to the Library Catalogs page at
    You can search the online catalog using Telnet or a Web browser.

  • Full text online
    Lovejoy Library subscribes to a number of databases that include some full text journal articles. You can search these databases with a single effort. Go to the Journal and Newspapers Databases page at Type in the journal title in the search box at the bottom. A grid will appear with the full text coverage dates on the right side. Check the dates of your citations against the full text coverage dates. Click on the hot blue link and type in the journal title. Open up the Keyword box and click on source. Enter the author's name in the second box and click on author.

  • Full text for ED documents
    Almost all of the ED documents are available full text in microfiche on the second floor of Lovejoy Library. More recent documents (1995-current) may be available online from E*Subscribe. Go to and click on Express Search on the left margin of the screen. Type in the ED number and click on the red PDF icon. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer.

  • What if the journal I need isn't in the library or available online?
    You can request a copy of the article you need from another library. An online form for this request is available at Paper request forms are also available in the library. Average turnaround time for an Interlibrary Loan request is 10 days to 2 weeks.

If you have questions or comments about this research guide, please contact Matthew Paris, Education Libarian, Lovejoy Library, at

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