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Course & Subject Guides

HPA 2320: Psychosocial and Behavioral Aspects of Health: ERIC

Resources for Dr. Ross's Masters-level class @ Pitt-Oakland

Descriptors & Thesaurus

Descriptors are disciplinary terms the ERIC database creators use to identify the major topics covered within a particular article, book or item.   Each full ERIC record has descriptors listed in the Descriptor field. 

Pay attention to these descriptors as you search.  Descriptors can suggest other keywords you can use in your searching, or identify a more exact disciplinary term for the concepts you are seeking.

The Thesaurus is an index to all the ERIC descriptors, pointing you to broader and narrower terms you can use in your searching.

ERIC - Education Resources Information Center

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, ERIC is the major source for Education research materials.  ERIC offers 1.3 million bibliographic records to journal articles and other education-related materials, with hundreds of new records added each week. While ERIC is freely searchable via the Internet, the ULS version of ERIC also provides links to all the online journal material at the University of Pittsburgh. You can access ERIC from the Databases A-Z  page or the Databases by Subject page under Education.

Searching ERIC

Create complex searches by combining multiple keywords.  Once you decide on your keywords, you can combine them to create focused complex searches.

A sample ERIC search in which there are three sets of terms anded together. The first is mathematics, limited to the descriptor field. The second is teaching methods and the third is elementary.


Field Searching:  Full ERIC records are made up of fields of information -- the title of the item is listed in the Title field, the author’s name is listed in the Author field, etc.  You can use these fields when you search by focusing your search for a term on a particular field. For instance, if you wanted articles by Benjamin Spock, you could search for Spock in AU Author field.  This will give you results where Spock is an author.

An ERIC search for the author Benjamin Spock. The author's name is inverted so that it looks like spock, benjamin, with the author field specified.


EJ versus ED

Every ERIC record has a 2 letter, 6 digit code, listed in parentheses usually at the end of the citation, like this (ED882297).  This code will start with either the letters EJ or ED, and these letters indicate what type of material that citation represents.

EJ or Eric Journal:  The EJ code indicates that reference is a citation to a journal article.  If you are not offered a direct link to the article, you can search PittCat Classic for the journal title.

ED or Eric Document : The ED code indicates that reference is a citation to an ERIC Document Collection.  ERIC Documents are a collection of valuable materials that may not have received wide publication -- research reports, policy documents, conference papers, lesson plans, course syllabi, and other materials of interest.  Recent ERIC documents are often available as .pdf documents within ERIC, but earlier ERIC documents are only available on microfiche (filed by ED number). These can be requested from Storage through the Get It! feature on PittCat Classic.