Educational Resources Information Center
Program, Organization, History
The Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) is a federally funded nationwide information system established to provide easy access to information about education research. ERIC offers educators and researchers a single source through which they can identify and obtain copies of educationrelated documents, articles, books, monographs, tests, manuals and handbooks, bibliographies, statistical reports, conference papers, dissertations and theses, historical materials, yearbooks, and translations. ERIC's mission is to improve American learning, teaching, and educational decision making by facilitating access to helpful educational research and information.
The massive ERIC database contains more than 1 million abstracts of education-related documents and articles, making it the world's largest repository of education information. The database is updated monthly, and more than 30,000 items are added each year. Interested parties can access the database via the Internet or through commercial vendors. Access to the ERIC database is also available at more than 1,000 libraries and education resource centers around the world. Many of these sites maintain an ERIC microfiche collection and can provide electronic copies of ERIC documents. In addition, ERIC abstracts are available in the print publications Resources in Education, ERIC's main announcement bulletin, and Current Index to Journals in Education, a monthly comprehensive index to periodical literature in education research.
Anyone interested in education can obtain copies of the full text of many ERIC documents at any library that owns the ERIC microfiche collection. Full-text microfiche or paper copies can also be ordered from ERIC's Document Reproduction Service. The full texts of some documents are also available online. ERIC does not supply full-text copies of journal articles abstracted in the ERIC database; these can be obtained from many library periodical collections or from the journal publisher.
During the 1990s ERIC implemented several invaluable electronic services. One of the most popular is AskERIC, an Internet-based service begun in 1992. AskERIC provides access to a web-based version of the ERIC database that includes document and journal citations from 1966 to the present. AskERIC also offers education-related question-and-answer services, a question archive, lesson plans, mailing lists, internet links, and listings of educational organizations, meetings, and conferences.
ERIC publications include popular two-page research syntheses called ERIC Digest. The digests are short reports that give an overview of a current topic of interest in education. ERIC produces approximately one hundred new digests each year. By 2001 there were nearly 2,500 ERIC Digests, most available online. Another publication, the ERIC Review, features information about emerging education issues, as well as announcements about ERIC products, services, and developments. ERIC also issues Parent Brochures, produces an online journal called Parent News, and sponsors the National Parent Information Network for parents who are interested in their children's education.
ERIC is supported by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Research and Improvement, and is administered by the National Library of Education. Unlike most federal information systems, in which all activities are conducted under one roof with centralized control, ERIC conducts much of it its document processing and dissemination activities at decentralized and relatively autonomous clearinghouses. The ERIC network consists of sixteen main clearinghouses, nine adjunct clearinghouses, one affiliate clearinghouse, and three support components. ERIC's clearinghouses and components are located at various sites around the country. Most clearinghouses are associated with a college or university.
Each of ERIC's sixteen main clearinghouses is responsible for the collection, processing, and dissemination of documents in a specific topic or field of education research. ERIC clearinghouses include, for example, the Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education at the Ohio State University; the Clearinghouse on Information and Technology at Syracuse University in New York; the Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana; and the Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education at Indiana University. ERIC clearinghouses also respond to requests for information and produce publications on current research and practices in their designated subject area. The nine adjunct clearinghouses are associated with one of the sixteen larger ERIC clearinghouses and have similar responsibilities.
Support components include the online service AskERIC; the ERIC Document Reproduction Service in Springfield, Virginia; and the ERIC Processing and Reference Facility in Lanham, Maryland. The three ERIC support components are responsible for producing, publishing, and disseminating systemwide products and services.
ERIC was created in 1966 as the Educational Research Information Center by the United States Office of Education; a year later its name was changed by substituting "Resources" for "Research" (the acronym remained ERIC) because ERIC had grown into a national education information system of service to educators and researchers.
ASKERIC. 2002. <www.askeric.org>.
ERIC: THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION CENTER. 2002. <www.eric.ed.gov>.
LEE G. BURCHINAL
JUDITH J. CULLIGAN
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