Finding Articles (Education)

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This tutorial will demonstrate how to search for articles on a specific topic in a library database.

Butler subscribes to several databases, which are online collections of articles. Databases are excellent sources of reliable information, much of which you wouldn't be able to find elsewhere.

On the right side of the screen, you should Butler Libraries' Education Databases guide.

This guide is a great place to start if you're doing education research!


Let's say you're researching school voucher programs and their impact on public school enrollment in Indiana.

Because you're researching a topic that's specific to the discipline of Education, you should start by searching ERIC, a popular education database.  ERIC stands for Educational Resources Information Center

Click here now to open ERIC (Don't click the right side of your screen).

Select Keywords

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The most common way to search for information in a database is using keywords (also called search terms).

Here’s how a keyword search works:

Keywords are words and short phrases that describe your topic.  When you enter keywords in a database search box, the database returns all articles that contain those exact keywords.

You can search for one keyword (vouchers) or combine keywords (vouchers and enrollment).

Take a moment and think about words and short phrases that people might use to write about the impact of school vouchers on public school enrollment in Indiana.

Jot down the words/phrases you think of on piece of paper, and we’ll compare notes in the next screen.

Select Keywords

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Here are some words/phrases I thought of:

  • school vouchers
  • education vouchers
  • public schools
  • enrollment
  • private schools
  • impact
  • affect
  • school choice
  • Indiana
  • midwest

Select Keywords

3 of 9Now it’s time to start searching ERIC. If you’re on campus, you should see the ERIC search screen on the right side of your screen.

If you're off campus, type your Butler ID and password now to access ERIC.

Notice that ERIC is an EBSCO database, like lots of the databases that Butler subscribes to.  You can tell which EBSCO database you're searching by looking above the search box.

ERIC EBSCO search image

Select Keywords

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Let's start with a general keyword search, just to get an idea of how many articles in ERIC mention vouchers.

From the ERIC search screen, enter vouchers in the search rectangle and click the green Search button.

Your search screen should look like this:

ERIC search

Now click the green search button.

Select Keywords

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You should now be looking at a list of all the articles/reports containing the word vouchers.

A quick scan of the article titles indicates that most of them deal with educational vouchers, but it doesn't look like any of the results specifically deal with the effect of vouchers on public school enrollment.

Select Keywords

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In order to narrow the results & display more relevant articles, add at least one more keyword or phrase.

Click the Advanced Search link under the search box. This should bring up multiple search boxes.  Keep vouchers in the top box, and enter public schools in the next box.  Try adding Indiana to the 3rd box.  Your search should look like this:

ERIC search 3 keywords

Now click Search.

Select Keywords

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Take a minute to look at your results now.  You should have fewer results, but your results should be closer to your topic.

From this screen, you can either open an article or click the Find Full Text button to see if you can access the full article from another database.

From the left side of this screen, you can also limit your results in several ways:

  • date range
  • full-text
  • peer reviewed
  • source type

Select Keywords

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Remember to evaluate the resulting articles for bias.  You can do a quick Google search for authors/organizations to determine any affiliations that might indicate potential bias.

Each time you read an article, pay attention to the terms you come across.  These leads could be used as future keyword searches, so as you read, jot them down.


You can also use the Thesaurus feature in ERIC  (in the blue bar at the top of the screen) to help you think of other terms to describe your topic.

Select Keywords

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You've now searched ERIC for specific information using keywords.

The research process will take several searches, and it's important to remember to keep track of the sources you find and potential leads for future searches.

ERIC is certainly not the only database you could use for this search.  Check out the Education Databases LibGuide for more suggested databases and links.

If you ever need help searching a database, please contact your Butler Librarians. We're happy to assist!

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