ERIC Tutorial: Why?

Upon completion of this tutorial you will be able to:

  • locate & access ERIC through MyASU or the ASU Library home page
  • brainstorm keywords relevant to your research topic
  • combine keywords using the Boolean search connectors AND and OR 
  • apply limits to focus your search results by:
    •  peer-reviewed articles  
    • scholarly, research-based or empirical articles
    • publication date
  • find & get full text


provides access to educational literature and resources. ERIC, established in 1966 and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, contains millions of records of journal articles, research reports, curriculum and teaching guides, conference papers, & books. 

Use the ProQuest version on the library website to the right to get full-text access to sources in ERIC. There is also a free web version of ERIC but free full-text is not available. 

How to Use this Tutorial:

  •  Use the arrow below to move forward in this tutorial.
  • As you progress, be sure to click on bolded and underlined words to see definitions!

Accessing ERIC

1 of 3In this section we will review the different paths to access ERIC.

ASU Library homepage [] in the right window offers 3 easy options...

1- Under "Frequently Used Resources" click on ERIC.

2- Select "Research Databases" from QUICK LINKS menu; from the alphabetical list click on 'E' and scroll down until you see ERIC. Click CONNECT

3- Under the FIND Menu select "Research Database" and follow the process outlined in #2.

If you are off campus you need to enter your ASURITE ID and password for each of these options.


Click on the ERIC link under "Frequently Used Resources" now so it is open and ready to search.

Accessing ERIC

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Prefer using MyASU?

Click on the link above to open MyASU and the library box.

Follow one of same basic paths to find ERIC once you open the MyASU Library Icon 


Find & click on the ERIC link now so that it is open and ready to search.


Accessing ERIC

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Before moving on, let's review what we have learned about accessing ERIC.



ERIC can be accessed from several different locations within the ASU Library website. Select the best answer!

Preparing to Search - Using Keywords

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Before trying a real search, let's discuss keywords & search connectors.

A. Brainstorm & translate main ideas or concepts into keywords:

To illustrate searching we will use this research question 

Do interactive, online games help middle school students learn science?

Before identifying keywords first you must determine the main concepts or ideas of your research question.

Review the search question above to answer the following question.


The main concepts or ideas in this research question are?

Preparing to Search - Using Keywords

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B. Identify more keywords:

Brainstorm the keywords to identify synonyms or related terms that describe these same ideas. Keep in mind that keywords in databases generally trail the language used in society thus the use of what may appear to be "odd" terms describing online games.

Here are suggestions for related terms for each keyword/concept:

Middle school students:

  • junior high school students
  • middle schools 

Online games:

  • online games
  • computer games
  • video games
  • games 


  • science
  • biology 

Using Search Connectors to Combine Keywords

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Now that we have our keywords we need to use search connectors to combine them in a logical, understandable way that allows the most relevant items to be retrieved.

Looking at the keywords from our search question, let's try combining them using AND or OR

Using Search Connectors to Combine Keywords

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OR is used to combine different keywords describing the same idea.

Looking at the first idea: middle school students, combine them using OR like this:

Middle school students OR junior high school students OR middle schools.


True/False? OR would also be used to combine the keywords for the 2nd idea: online games, computer games, video games, games.


Using Search Connectors to Combine Keywords

3 of 4Now let's focus on the use of AND.

From the definition, remember AND is used to combine keywords describing different ideas.

Looking at the keywords in our search, below are several different ways the keywords could be combined using the Connector AND

1- Middle school students AND computer games

2- Video games AND science

3- Middle school students AND online games AND science

Using Search Connectors to Combine Keywords

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Using search connectors, AND, OR can be confusing so let's review again by trying these keywords with search connectors.


Which search connector is used correctly?


Which is the correct example of using search connectors to locate articles on how sports is relevant to boys and girls?

Searching ERIC Using Keywords

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So far we have decided on a research question, identified the main ideas, brainstormed and assigned keywords to those ideas and reviewed search connectors to combine our keywords. We are now ready to search the ERIC database.

The ERIC Advanced Search should look like this:




Do NOT let the phrase "Advanced Search" scare you! This is the easy search because it guides you through the search process.

Notice the AND is already in place to combine the different keywords. OR is also in place, if needed, to combine the different keywords describing the same idea.

Searching ERIC Using Keywords

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Alert! Keyword and subject searches produce different results! Look at the differences!

A subject search using the Thesaurus produces the most focused results because only "official" ERIC subjects are searched in the subject field of the record.

A keyword search will also allow you to find good information but you generally retrieve a larger number of sources because all fields of the record are searched and retrieved if the keyword is found.




Searching ERIC Using Keywords

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Time now to try a keyword search!

Enter the following keywords in the search boxes:

Row 1:

  • Middle school students OR junior high school students OR middle schools

Row 2:

  • computer games or video games

Row 3: [1st, click on 'add a row']

  • Science

Click on the button


Searching ERIC Using Keywords

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Looking at the results from this search, please answer the following questions.


How many results did you get searching:


(Middle school students OR junior high school students OR middle schools) AND (Online games) AND (Science)?



True/False? Using the OR connector broadened the number of items found in this search.


Limiting Search Results

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In this section you will see how to limit your search results.

Many professors will require you find & use scholarly research articles that are peer-reviewed.

In addition, you may be asked to use only research-based empirical articles. This requires another step beyond limiting to scholarly peer-reviewed articles.

Lastly, some faculty also require the articles you use be written within a specific time period requiring you limit results to publication dates

Limiting Search Results

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Let's practice limiting your search results.

First click on "peer-reviewed" articles; next select "scholarly journals" under Source Type. You should now see fewer articles instead of the original number we began with. To find empirical articles scroll down to Document Type & select: 143 Reports - Research.

Notice that with each limit added to the search results the number of items retrieved gets smaller and more focused.


Search results can be limited by which of the following source types?


Viewing Search Results

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We searched our keywords and limited the results, so it's time to view what we found.

First, click on "Clear all filters" under Narrow Results to remove all the limits providing us with the original & larger pool of items to view.

You should have fewer items than what we began with!

Viewing Search Results

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Each record in our results list contains basic information about the source such as the citation [author, title, date etc], an abstract, subjects assigned etc.

Looking at the records [entries] notice there is an icon to the left of the title.

Each icon represents a type of source [e.g. scholarly journal, books, etc. This is a quick visual way to recognize the different types of sources, especially scholarly journal articles. The full list of source types found in ERIC is below.

Exporting Citations to RefWorks

If you wish to save your citations for use later in a project or to develop a bibliography you can export the citations to RefWorks

RefWorks is a citation management software program or in plain English, it stores, organizes and formats your citations using the citation style you select. You can easily create a RefWorks account by clicking on the link above. 

To learn more about using this resource there is a RefWorks Library Guide.  There is also a Citation Styles Library Guide that has information about using different citation styles.

APA style is the primary citation style for education and the social sciences. RefWorks allows you to set a default citation style such as APA.  When you are ready to format selected citations RefWorks  will create a bibliography in APA style.

To send citations to RefWorks click on the "Save" link on the right to open a drop down menu.



Getting the Full-text of an Article

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Now that you have learned how to search using keywords, recognize different source types, limit your search results and export citations to RefWorks, it is time to look at finding the complete article or full-text.

In some cases, this will be easy, as you might see one of these types of full text links in the article record:

1. Full text - PDF: a scanned version of the paper journal, and always the best option you can choose.

2. Link to ERIC Full text: often an ERIC document available as a PDF

3. Link to Full text: this link will take you to a PDF version of the article that exists somewhere other than in ERIC.

Getting the Full-text of an Article

2 of 2Don't see any of the full text options? If none are shown, you should see this button:

When you click on the Get It@ASU button other ASU databases and e-journal collections[outside of ERIC] are searched to determine if full text is available.

A new window opens showing you if full text is available and where it can be found.  

If full-text is NOT available, you can request a scanned copy of the article using Interlibrary Loan. The window looks like the one below. 




Now that you have completed this tutorial, you can:

  • locate & access ERIC through MyASU or the ASU Library home page
  • brainstorm keywords relevant to your research topic
  • combine keywords using the Boolean search connectors AND and OR 
  • apply limits to focus your search results by:
    •  peer-reviewed articles 
    • scholarly, research-based or empirical articles
    • publication date
  • find & get full text

Need Help?

If you need additional help with your research or in searching ERIC, contact one of the Education Librarians located on the campus nearest you or Ask a Librarian.  

For assistance with this tutorial, contact Deirdre Kirmis.




Congratulations, you’ve completed the ERIC tutorial!

Click on TUTORIALS to return to the Tutorials page or QUIZ to complete a brief quiz.




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