EDUC 294A: Thesis Seminar-PLI Tips

Use the Advanced Search engine for the best results.

Advanced Search lets you refine your search by: keywords, title, author, descriptor, source (i.e. journal name), ERIC Accession Number, ISBN, institution, sponsoring agency, publisher, date range, peer review status and more. 

Browse by Topic using the Thesaurus. Index terms, referred to as “descriptors,” are assigned to every item in the ERIC database.  Click on “Thesaurus” from the ERIC homepage.  Here you can browse alphabetically, by category or search by descriptor. 

Find Effective Keywords using the Thesaurus.   First think of your question in your own words.  Enter those words into the thesaurus search engine to see if there is a descriptor that matches your words.  If not, ERIC will provide suggested words.  For example, to find articles and documents about tests that measure attitude, enter "test* attitude."  The asterisk picks up both singular and plural.  The results indicate two descriptors: "Attitude Tests 1966_1980" and "Self Attitude Test." 

Refine Your Search.  Click on the ERIC Search button to launch an ERIC search from the Thesaurus. ERIC will automatically create a search using the descriptor, but will first give you the opportunity to refine the search by presenting the advanced search screen with its many limiter options.

Once the results appears, you will have another opportunity to narrow your search by author, publication, dates, audience, educational level or additional descriptor.


Where to find ERIC.  Find ERIC on the EDP Library homepage under ERIC (via ProQuest)  or MultiEdPsyc for the ProQuest platform.  The MultiEdPsyc link has been configured to search several related databases at once.  With one search engine, simultaneously search ERIC, PsycInfo, Communication Abstracts, Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts, International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, and MLA International Bibliography.  The MultiEdPsyc link is available ONLY on the EDP Library homepage.

What's in ERIC  ERIC, publicly sponsored and funded by the U.S. Department of Education, is the primary and leading index to journals and other literature published in education. 

     ERIC provides an index to citations for (1) journal articles and (2) ERIC Documents relating to the field of education. Journals and documents are indexed back to 1965.  The index points to over 780 journals, representing more than 1.3 million bibliographic records. Check the journal list for titles.

     ERIC Documents are from hundreds of organizations producing education-related material. Document types include books, research syntheses, conference papers, technical reports, policy papers, and school district documents. Organizations providing non-journal content to ERIC include research foundations, federal and state agencies, policy organizations, university affiliates, and commercial publishers.

How to find full-text of cited material:  The Library provides full-text access (online or in print) to most of the journals indexed in ERIC and the other databases searchable from the ProQuest platform.  From ProQuest, follow  UC-eLinks  to discover UC’s online or print full-text coverage.   In, click on "Find in a Library", then on the button, UC-eLinks.  WorldCat connects the ERIC database to the UC Libraries' collectons.

     ERIC has digitized the entire collection of ERIC Documents (formerly on microfiche).  ERIC has not received copyright permission to provide online full-text of a small portion of the documents, however. Most of this portion is available on microfiche at the EDP Library.  Microfiche may be checked out and taken to Doe Library for scanning onto a flash drive or printed at EDP.  For digitized ERIC Documents follow UC-eLinks (via CSA) or the pdf link, pdf ERIC Full-text ,( via

     If an item is not available full-text from the UC Libraries, ask a librarian for assistance, or use the “Request” links in Melvyl or Oskicat to request an interlibrary loan.

ProQuest Tips

ProQuest.  This search engine is used to find sources indexed in PsycInfo, ERIC, Sociological Abstracts, Social Service Abstracts and many others. ProQuest provides a three-row search engine.  The first row limits term entry to one, the second and third rows permit entry to two similar/synonymous terms.  To clarify intent, rows can be combined with “and”, “or”, or “not”. 

Do not check the box labeled “full-text” as you will miss most of the material available online at UC and find only the content we buy from ProQuest.  ProQuest indexes, i..e., points to, more content than that which they sell in full-text.  UC buys full-text content from many publishing vendors.  Everything UC has purchased is seamlessly linked and findable via the UC-eLinks yellow button.   The UC-eLinks button does not appear until one clicks on either the Title or the Citation/Abstract link from the Results page.  This displays the individual item record together with other navigation tools such as finding full-text or sending to citation management software (i.e., RefWorks).

A sample subject search for empirical studies on writing instruction might be:

Row One: AB (Abstract) = “writing instruction”
Row Two: AB (Abstract)= “empirical study”
Row Three: AB (Abstract)= “K-12"

Depending on the selection of databases to be searched, ProQuest can be very granular.  For example, in PsycInfo, one can search for a Methodology or Tests & Measurement instrument.  To see all fields that are specific to a database, such as PsycInfo or ERIC, it is necessary to change the selection of databases to only one.  For example, when selection is changed to only PsycInfo, you will see a more expanded list of limiter choices, including Methodology.  Similarly, when selection is changed to only ERIC, you will see a different list of limiter choices, including Education Level and Target Audience.

Better results occur when phrases are placed in quotation marks.

Last Update: December 03, 2013 18:19 | Tagged with: educational_research ERIC articles books dissertations search_strategy