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Education: EDF5016

Finding journal articles and understanding their relevance

At the end of this tutorial, you will:

  • know how to use the key database for educational research, ERIC
  • understand the relevance/impact of journal articles
  • find evidence from scholarly literature supporting classroom practice for your assignment

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Pre-class activities: Use ERIC like a pro with field search

Please complete the following activities before class.

We will ask the following questions in class to see how you were doing:


  • how many peer-reviewed articles published by Joanne Deppeler are listed in ERIC?
  • when and in which journal was the most recent article published?
  • how many times was this article cited and how many references are listed?

Login into ERIC (use your Monash password). ERIC will automatically load with the advanced search screen which allows you to perform a very targeted search. In our example we are looking for articles by a particular author, so we are limiting our search to the author field.



How many peer-reviewed articles published by Joanna Deppeler have you found?


All the results for your search will be displayed in a list. On the right-hand side you can find options for sorting and filtering your results.



When and in which journal was the most recent article written by Joanne Deppeler published?


Each of the results listed includes some general bibliographic information as well as the number of times the article has been cited and the number of references.



How many times was Joanne Deppeler's most recent article cited and how many references are listed?


As a general rule of thumb, the higher the number of citations, the higher the relevance/impact of the article. There is no definite number after which an article is considered of high impact, but keep an eye on this number when looking for references for your research and your assignments.

Using this strategy described for the author search, you can use field search to also look for specific titles, publications, subjects, and many more. 

In-class/post-class activities: Using subject headings

We will do this exercise together in class.


Often you will be looking to find material on a particular subject without specifying an author, title or publication. Of course you can type in your key words in the search field and start your search that way. However, if you are not using the exact term or spelling used by the texts you are looking for, your search might not be efficient enough for your needs.

Another way you can go about it is to just begin your search with an article that talks exactly about the subject(s) you are looking for and use this as your starting point. 



On the following page you will find the abstract, which provides you a good overview of what the article is about, as well as more detailed information about the article itself in regards to the subjects covered, length, publication, etc. Note that all the subjects are hyperlinked - these are standardized subject headings used by ERIC. This also means that all texts talking about e.g. inclusion will have this subject heading assigned. 



Let's say we want to find more articles on the subject 'Curriculum Development' - all you have to do is to click on the respective subject heading, and you will get a list of result of articles in ERIC that have this subject heading assigned - in this case over 52,000:



You can do the same for the other subject headings, e.g. 'Inclusion'. Just go back and click on the respective subject heading. However, the amount of results makes these searches far too broad to be useful or effective. But ERIC offers a great way of combining your searches. We now want to look for articles that talk about both 'Curriculum Development' and 'Inclusion'. All your searches during this session have been saved in a list of recent searches that you can see in the top right corner.



As you can see, ERIC lists all the searches we have done so far and assigns them numbers. You can use these numbers to combine your previous searches, so instead of looking for 'Curriculum Development' first and then for 'Inclusion', we can combine them now and find where these subjects overlap:



You will now get a much more manageable number of results:



You can of course not only combine subject searches together, but also author searches, publication searches, ...

Post-class activity: Locating full-text for articles in ERIC with Library Search

Some of the articles in ERIC will include a link to the full-text document, but others will just offer you the option to 'Find a copy'. If you are looking for the full-text article that is not provided in ERIC, click on this option to look for the article in Library Search.

Use your Monash username and password to log in and to access the full-text.