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Research in Education

Resources and examples of techniques for researchers in educational psychology, foundations, and leadership studies (EPFLS).

Finding Empirical or Experimental Research using ERIC

You can use ERIC to search specifically for empirical research - articles that report an actual experiment or study.  To find research articles type in your search and then - using the "Publication Type" option in ERIC at the bottom of the search page - limit your search to  the option "Reports - Research"


The Reports-Research option under Publication Type in the database ERIC.  Used for limiting to empirical research.

Focusing with Subject Searching - How to find and use Descriptors (subjects)

Searching by subject (descriptor) is a powerful way to limit your search to only those articles that are truly about your topic.

This type of search uses the SU Descriptors command.

ERIC EBSCO - subject searching with the SU Descriptors command.


To determine which words are used by ERIC as descriptors for your topic you can either use the Thesaurus found above the search blank. The Thesaurus can then either be searched or browsed.

ERIC EBSCO Thesaurus - for finding subject terms (descriptors)

Options for locating subject terms (descriptors) in the ERIC Thesaurus. Search for words that begin with or contain a particular word.


Descriptors (subject headings) can also be discovered by first conducted a basic search on your subject and then inspecting the Subjects: section of results. Run additional new ERIC SU: Descriptors searches using the new Subjects: you discover during your searching.

Inspect the Subjects: section of your search results to discover additional descriptors that could be used in subsequent searches.



ERIC Search Strategies

To focus your searches using ERIC try the following commands:


ERIC Search Techniques - Boolean Operators - Truncation - Proximity Operators - Quotes


Another powerful technique is to search for your topic (keywords) in the title of articles.  To do this change the dropdown menu in the Advanced Search from “Select a Field” to “TI Title




For the following search example, the phrase “problem based learning” must appear in the title of the article and math or mathematics or mathematical must appear in the abstract.




Before you search - you may wish to limit your search to “Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals.”   

To limit to “Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals” be sure to check the box labeled “Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals” farther down the search screen: