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Special Education

General Purpose Guide

Advanced ERIC Searching for Evidence-based Practice Articles

Follow these directions closely: Education professors and librarians have identified a searching strategy that is advanced but really helps to narrow your results to only empirical articles that discuss program evaluation (evidence-based practice). This may appear complicated, but it will save you time and frustration!

From the Libraries' home page select Databases. From here you can browse databases by SUBJECT (e.g., "Education") or ALPHABETICALLY.

  1. Begin by first choosing the Advanced Search screen and enter this search phrase:
    DE Evidence OR DE Program Effectiveness OR DE Evaluation Utilization OR DE Outcomes of Education
    DE stands for descriptor. These are terms assigned to the article by professionals. These terms will help return the articles on program evaluation in the ERIC database. These terms were identified by the course instructors and librarians to limit your results to articles concerning program evaluation.
  2. Click search
  3. Click on the Advanced Search screen so you can use special limiters available there which will help you only find articles that are empirical studies. 
    ERIC (Ebsco) adv search screen with the phrase DE Evidence OR DE Program Effectiveness OR DE Evaluation Utilization OR DE Outcomes of Education entered in the first box
  4. Under Document Type, CTRL + Click to select both “reports - evaluative” and “reports - research” options.x You have set up the foundation and now you can search for your topic.  Click Clear. Don't worry - you will use Search History to get back what you've done in the previous steps. ERIC advanced search screen portion where document type is


  5. You'll need to find search terms and related terms. We recommend you use the Thesaurus link to help you choose correct subject terms for your topic and related terms, or descriptors. (i.e., other related terms/phrases for the descriptive term "Bullying"). 
  6. Find the Thesaurus link at the very top of the page.  
    ERIC (ebsco) search screen with a circle around Thesaurus at the top of the page to the left
  7. Enter your topic in the box labeled Browsing: ERIC -- Thesaurus. It's beneath the search box. 
    ERIC (ebsco) thesaurus page with results for bully

    8. Click on your terms to view broader terms, related terms, and the scope note. All of these may inform your search. From the picture below, we've found many alternatives that inform us to search in ERIC the following. 

    bully* OR harassment OR "school violence" OR teasing OR hazing OR cyberbully* 
    Note: The truncation symbol—an asterisk (*)—can be used to find variant endings of a particular term when conducting basic keywords searches: (i.e., educat* to find educate, educated, education, etc.): 

    9.  Putting it all together.
    First click on the Search History link under the search boxes
    ERIC (Ebsco) search screen with  Search History circled. It's beneath the search box.

    b. Select S2 and S3 and click "Search with AND"

    ERIC (ebsco) search history page with boxes around S2, S3, and "search with and"

    c. Scroll down and review your results. 

    Here is our complete search history