The ERIC database, which is sponsored through the U.S. Deptartment of Education, is the biggest index of educational journals and other related educational resources.
Getting to the ERIC database:
Searching in ERIC:
When searching a database you need to break your research question into the key concepts or keywords. For example, the database won’t understand if you type in the whole phrase “What is the relationship between memory and retention of mathematical skills for girls?” You need to break that phrase up into the most important concepts. Start by typing in your first concept, for example, "memory", and then add synonyms on the same line by connecting them with the word OR. This tells the database to search for articles that have the word memory OR the word memorization OR the word recall. The more ORs you have the more articles you will get back.
You can narrow down your search by adding a second concept using the word AND. If you have any synonyms, type them on the same line and connect them with the word OR. Notice that when you have a phrase like “math education” you can use quotation marks to tell the database that you want those two words to stay next to each other when you search. Each time you add an additional concept, you will get more focused results, but fewer results total. One search does not necessarily cover everything, so you may need to try different combinations of your concepts. Before you click search, consider limiting to Scholarly journals and Peer reviewed to get higher quality research articles. When you’re finished, you can click search.
Narrowing your Results:
Once you get your results, you can look at the recommended subject headings to help you brainstorm more keywords to use when searching. If you’d like to narrow your results, you can use the options on the right to limit by date and educational level. You can also limit to research reports by clicking on document type then choosing the 143 code. The results are not all primary research so you will still need to evaluate the relative merits of each resource. Finally, when you find a useful item, you can also quickly look back to see what other resources were used by that author in the document's reference list. You can look forward and see the impact of this item by seeing which newer authors cited this source.