ERIC Marks Forty-Fifth Anniversary as an Education Collection
Dec. 1, 2011
Forty-five years ago, ERIC distributed the first issue of Research in Education (RIE), a print publication that included bibliographic data and abstracts for 67 research documents from federal agencies. Accompanying RIE was a microfiche collection enabling people to read the full text of the documents from a reader—the best available technology of the times. RIE and the microfiche collection were the precursors of today's ERIC Digital Library. The goal was to help researchers and educators learn about education studies supported by such entities as the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; the Department of Labor; the Department of Defense; and the National Science Foundation.
In subsequent years, the collection was broadened to include materials from professional organizations and state and local education agencies, as well as conference papers. Individuals could request microfiche or paper copies of the full text of this grey literature. In 1969, ERIC began to index education journal articles in the companion print publication, Current Index to Journals in Education (CIJE).
Among other innovations in ERIC's early years was the development of a controlled vocabulary of education terminology used to index the documents and journal articles by subject, aiding user search and retrieval. Use of this vocabulary, compiled in the Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors, became particularly valuable as ERIC moved from a print to an online database model.
Indeed, deploying technology in support of broad dissemination of education resources has been one of the distinguishing features of ERIC for 45 years. Today, ERIC continues to meet its mission of providing a comprehensive, easy-to-use, searchable, Internet-based bibliographic and full-text database of education research and information that also meets the requirements of the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002. The ERIC collection has grown to encompass more than 1.4 million records, including more than 340,000 with full text attached and links to additional options for obtaining full text. It is searched more than 13 million times each month by users worldwide.