ERIC Tutorial

3.0 Getting Started With ERIC

 After entering the ERIC database, you will be in advanced search, which allows you to be specific about your needs. You will find boxes for entering your search terms, and to the right of them you will find pull-down menus for choosing the type of search you want.

Most searchers use the keyword (all text) or subject (descriptor) options, and first you should know the difference. Keyword searching is a broad search, and a good place for beginners to start. It looks for your terms throughout the information in ERIC. If your keyword is in a resource title, the abstract (summary), the author, or the subject headings, that resource will be on your results list.

If you want to search for a phrase (words adjacent), you should enclose your phrase within quotation marks, e.g., “block scheduling”

Image of Advanced Search screen in ERIC, 'gender differences' in quotes  inserted as search term.

Descriptors precisely describe the content of your resource, but terms must exactly match those designated by the producers of the database. Experts in the field have identified this controlled vocabulary. This is like the headings in the yellow pages of your phone book. Since they don’t want to list some car dealers under "car" and some under "automobile" and some under "race car", they have chosen the controlled vocabulary "automobile" under which you will find all of these sub-categories listed.

We suggest searching by descriptors (also called subjects) only if you have read the optional section about this advanced strategy:       Using the Thesaurus

As an alternative you can focus your search using the subject list on the left side of the results page, which uses the same controlled vocabulary. This list will not be as good as the Thesaurus, however, at helping you explore and develop your search terms.

You may also choose to search for a specific author (perhaps a known scholar in your field), article title, journal title, accession number, etc. Look at the pull-down menu to view all of your options.

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