ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center) is an essential database for education research whose mission is to provide rigorous evidence on which to ground education practice and policy. Established in 1966, ERIC is supported by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences.
ERIC offers access to over 1.6 million records, including scholarly journals, reports, conference proceedings, and books. Over 631,000 of these records have full-text available. If you are unable to get full-text for a specific document in ERIC, you can try searching for it in OneSearch or requesting a copy of the document through Inter-Library Loan.
This section describes how to use the free and publicly accessible version of eric.ed.gov
When you enter keywords in the search bar, ERIC looks for your search terms across title, author, source, abstract, and descriptor. ERIC ranks your results by many factors including the publication date (more recent publications are favored).
Let's try a search for Culturally Relevant Pedagogy in English classrooms. By placing quotation marks around specific concepts, you instruct ERIC that those words must appear as an exact phrase.
ERIC lets you filter your results several different ways. In the screen shot below, you can see:
(A) The green box on the left hand side of the screen for filtering by publication date.
(B) The check box below the search bar for "Peer reviewed only" texts.
Scrolling down the green boxes on the left side of the screen will reveal options to filter your result by publication type (articles, books, reports, classroom guides, etc.) and education level (high school, elementary school, 7th grade, etc.).
Putting it all together: We can search for peer reviewed articles about Culturally Relevant Pedagogy in high school English classrooms published in the last ten years.
An ERIC record holds several key pieces of information about a document:
(C) Publisher (Such as the journal title).
(D) Abstract (A summary of the article's methods, findings, and objectives).
(E) Descriptors (A set of tags that describe the article's content. Clicking these tags will take you to other related articles).
(F) Where to get a copy of the article (Sometimes ERIC hosts a PDF copy. If a PDF is not provided, you should search the article title in OneSearch to see if Queens College has a copy).
Sometimes, the words you think describe a concept do not match the terms used by other researchers. This is where the ERIC Thesaurus comes in. The thesaurus is a controlled vocabulary, which is a standardized set of terms that provide a consistent way to describe educational concepts. ERIC calls these standardized terms descriptors.
If we want to find a descriptor for "culturally relevant":
(1) Click on the Thesaurus tab.
(2) Enter the term culturally relevant.
(3) Check the Include Synonyms box below the search bar.
You see that the thesaurs returns one result for Culturally Relevant Education (and not pedagogy).
Clicking on a thesaurus term opens up important information about that descriptor:
(A) The descriptor.
(B) The Scope Note (Provides a definition of the descriptor).
(C) Related Terms (Lists other descriptors that are conceptually related to your descriptor. You might want to explore these as part of your research).
(D) Use this term instead of (A list of descriptors that are outdated or uncommon in the literature).
Descriptors are powerful search tools because they let you find articles that are substantively about a specific topic even if that topic is not in the title or abstract. Human indexers attach descriptors to an article rather than relying on a computer driven keyword search. You find descriptors in the ERIC Thesaurus or at the bottom of an article's ERIC record.
ERIC asks that you use the descriptor field name before the descriptor as in the following example: descriptor:"Culturally Relevant Education" AND English. In this case, ERIC searches for articles tagged with Culturally Relevant Education and then only returns those articles that also mention English as a keyword in the title, abstract, or other descriptors.