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Library Databases are collections of articles where the library buys the rights for you to access, read, link to, and print the articles. Although EBSCOhost is the best known provider of databases in Iowa, there are many others. Today we highlight another library database. All of our databases can be accessed both directly on any Kirkwood computer or by logging in with k number and password from anywhere off campus.

ERIC logo

ERIC – What it Is, Why to use it

Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) is a database put out by the federal government. The version Kirkwood offers is provided by EBSCO. At one time ERIC was THE powerful tool in research for education and many other topics – it interprets education very broadly. Sadly while it is still useful it’s not as useful as it once was.

At one time you could look up a reference in ERIC and easily access everything in there. If you were at a research library with a full set of the microfiche you checked the index for the number pulled the right fiche and every ED numbered document would be available right there. Research libraries would either have the EJ articles on the shelves or be able to InterLibrary Loan them. Even smaller libraries were able to purchase the specific microfiche or borrow it from bigger libraries.

The federal government decided that microfiche was old-fashioned and discontinued it in favor of an online system. Unfortunately, it did so without providing money to fully fund the digital conversion so many articles and documents that were indexed were simply not available. Many things listed in ERIC as an educational document and had very small publication runs (like a brochure, thesis, or state department of education curriculum) so to try to find a copy in a library holding to borrow or to purchase was almost impossible for some indexed items. A lot of the scanning has been done now, but you will still find some things unavailable.

Later on the system faced further challenges. Among the things indexed were theses that listed personal information of the writers. It wasn’t much thought about when you had to go and pull a microfiche to get it, but once it was easily accessible with a click of the mouse protests arose wanting to remove or suppress this information, further delaying the digital implementation. Ironically all this has made the digital version less helpful than its clunky predecessor. Hopefully those types of problems are now behind them.

All that said ERIC, while not the end all and be all it used to be, is still a good place to start more in-depth research on education topics specifically and very broadly defined topics related to education topics.

Please note: In the EBSCO version of ERIC they often link you to the full text available in the free government version rather than republish it themselves.

Search EBSCO ERIC by clicking here.

You can also find the link directly by clicking on the All Kirkwood Databases link on the Kirkwood Library Services home page and scroll to E for Eric. If you are accessing it from off campus you will have to log in with your K number and password at this point.

ERIC is also offered for free on a government website with no log in necessary. Click here to be taken to the free federal version.

Tech tips

ED and EJ Numbers

Every article, thesis, or book in ERIC is assigned a unique identifying number in the database. These take two forms; numbers that start with ED and numbers that start with EJ.

ED stands for educational document and is used for books, pamphlet, theses, etc. ED documents are usually found full text in the database.

EJ stands for educational journal and is used for scholarly journals. These articles are almost never found full text in ERIC because journal owners want you to pay them for access. Once you identify an article you want you should be able to InterLibrary Loan it through the library if we don’t have direct access. Ask at the Reference Desk if you aren’t sure how.

Printing and Permalinks


Print directions follow the standard printing for EBSCO. If the article shows up as a PDF be sure to tell it to print from the PDF menu to make sure it prints correctly.


To find a permalink (so you can always be directed back to the correct article):

  1. Go to the detailed record.
  2. On the right hand side of the page find a column titled Tools.
  3. Click on permalink which is the second to the bottom of the column next to a graphic of 2 links of a chain.
  4. This will open a box above the start of the detailed record marked permalink and a box showing an address or URL. Copy this URL.

More Information

Citations can be found by clicking “Cite” in the right-hand column titled Tools. Several different systems of citations will be shown, pick the one you want.  Note: Database generated citations are often in error, double check before you trust your grade to one.

Sarah Uthoff is a reference library at Kirkwood Community College. LIKE the Kirkwood Community College Library on Facebook and find links to Sarah all over the web at her About Me Profile.