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ERIC: Searchable Fields

A guide to all aspects of ERIC including content, searching, and viewing results on the ProQuest platform.


"The Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors (Thesaurus) is a controlled vocabulary--a carefully selected list of education-related subject headings. ERIC assigns terms to ERIC records to organize them by subject and make them easier to retrieve through a search. Searching by Descriptors involves selecting relevant terms from this controlled vocabulary to locate information on your topic." (from About the ERIC Thesaurus).

The ERIC Thesaurus is used to index the Subject heading field in the ProQuest search platform. The terms are found in the Subject heading (all) and more specifically in the ERIC subject field. Both are found in the list of searchable fields in the table to the right.

The thesaurus allows you to find subject terms to narrow or broaden your search. Frequent searchers of ERIC may also know the subject terms as ERIC Descriptors. These are also commonly known as controlled vocabulary and sometimes classification terms. In ERIC, there are different subject types and in addition to the all encompassing Document type, Language, Education level, and Target audience

Note that the ERIC Thesaurus does contain invalid (retired) terms and directs searchers to the correct subject term in the Use Term field when an invalid term is viewed in the Thesaurus.

If you want to run a search on a subject, but you do not know what term to use, use the thesaurus to search the controlled vocabulary. A hierarchical display is available and will give suggestions on the appropriate subject terms to add to your search. To use the thesaurus, select the Thesaurus link from the Advanced or Command Line search page, then browse or search for subjects containing the word or beginning with the word. Mark the items that you would like to search and then select the appropriate Boolean operator to combine your items. Click the Add to search button and your terms will be placed into the search form. From there, run your search to include the subject terms (adding additional search fields and terms if needed).

Look Ups and Browsable Indexes

ERIC offers four (4) Look ups or browsable indexes, so you can easily find spelling or format variations of, for example, an author's name or a journal title. You can find the Look up links in the advanced search page and they are available for the following searchable fields: author, publication, subject (all), and ERIC subjects. For a description of these fields, please see the searchable fields table to the right. 

Note: Look ups are also available from the Command Line search (through the Look up terms link).

To use and locate a Look up or browsable index, select the field from the advanced search pull-down menu. If a Look up is available, under the search row you will see a link to theLook up. Other Look ups and browsable indexes will be listed in the Limit To section of the advanced search page.

Select the Look up link and then you will see a browsable and alphabetical index for that field. There are some indexes that will not display an alphabetical list before searching for the term, rather you will have to enter a term first, and then the alphabetical list of matches will display.

Once you locate the index term that you would like to add to your search, mark the item, and then click the Add to search button. The index term will now appear in the advanced search form along with the appropriate pull-down menu selection.

Searchable Fields

Field Name


Search Examples & Explanation



AB("adult literacy")

We use the ERIC-provided abstract, which ERIC defines as "a brief narrative description of the journal article, document, or resource."

Anywhere Except Full text


ALL("No Child Left Behind Act")

ALL("teacher efficacy" AND "pupil behaviour")

ALL searches for keywords in the citation and abstract. It is a full record search, but does not include a search on the full text.

Audience (or Target Audience)*



ERIC added this field, previously known as Target Audience, to ERIC records in January 1984, but uses it only when the author clearly specifies an intended audience; many records do not include a target audience. Some entries from May 1975 to December 1983 include the retrospective addition of the terms "Practitioners" and/or "Students." ERIC has designated eleven distinct audiences: Administrators, Community, Counselors, Media Staff, Parents, Policymakers, Practitioners, Researchers, Students, Support Staff, and Teachers.

For definitions of these designated audiences, see #4 on the Search Tips> Advanced Search page of this guide.




AU(Balogh, Jennifer)

Use to find documents written by a particular author, compiler, or editor. ERIC indexes the author name exactly as it appears on the document. If more than one person authors a document, ERIC indexes all authors in the order in which they are listed on the document. Prior to 1997 different rules applied regarding multiple authors. For materials with two authors, ERIC indexed both names; for materials with three or more authors, ERIC indexed the first author only, appending the comment "and others."†

Use the Author Name lookup to locate variations on the author's name or manually enter an Author search query for both the full first name and the initials in order to retrieve all publications by a specific author. A query can be structured as (last name, first name) or (first name last name).



AV(Level 1)

Use to determine the available document format from ERIC. Note that if a record is listed as Level 2 or 3, your library may have linked other full-text databases to ERIC where the full-text might be found or the record may be retrieved via Inter-library Loan services at your library.

Level 1 = Available online (via ERIC), if indexed January 1993 onward

Level 2 = Produced in microfiche (1966-2003)

Level 3 = Indexed only

Cited Author



Use to search for an author that is part of the Cited References section of a record.

Cited Document Title


CTI("behavioral interventions")

Use to search for document titles that are part of the Cited References section of a record.

Cited Publication Date



Use to search for publication dates that are part of the Cited References section of a record.

Cited Publication Title


CPUB("Environment & Behavior")

Use to search for a publication title that is part of the Cited References section of a record.

Classification Codes


CC(ENA 04: Environmental Education)

CC(80: Management and Marketing)

Use Classification Codes when searching specific topics. Classification Codes are a fast way to precisely target a search in the natural and physical sciences, and business.

For a complete list of Classification Codes, see....

Corporate/Institutional Author



CA(University of California, Los Angeles)

CA(United States Institute for Peace)

CA(World Bank, Human Development Network) 

Search for a company or other organizations featured prominently in an article.

Digital Object Identifiers



Search for documents with DOIs using the DOI search. It is a unique identifier assigned to a document that is registered through the International DOI Foundation.

Document Title



TI("self-directed learning")

Locates the occurrence of search words in the title of the article.

Document Type*




Use this to find specific document types such as article, book, essay, and market research. For more information about this field, see the Publication Types page of this guide.

Education Level*


LV(Elementary Education)

This field specifies the level of education that is addressed in the document or article.  ERIC introduced this field in 2005; previously the information was included as a Descriptor.  A specific grade may be indexed, e.g., Grade 6, and/or a category. The table found in the Education Levels page of this guide defines the levels and displays the hierarchy, indicated by symbols.

ERIC Accession Number


ProQuest ID Number  





Searches the ERIC-assigned Document Number (ED Number) or ERIC Journal Number (EJ Number). These are unique accession numbers assigned to each record in the ERIC Collection. ProQuest also assigns its own unique number to each record (see example three above); use it to locate articles and documents.

ERIC Subject*  


ESU("Early Childhood Education")

This field directly corresponds to the Subject heading field (SU) and the terms found in the ERIC Thesaurus.

Identifier (keyword)


IF(France (Paris))

IF("Americans with Disabilities Act 1990")

IF("Stanford Achievement Tests")

Identifiers are indexing terms, not found in the Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors, that provide specific identifying information in a category: geographic names, laws and legislation, or tests and testing.†

International Standard Book Number 



This search field looks for the 10- or 13-digit* International Standard Book Number, when available.Hyphens are optional. *On January 1, 2007, the ISBN system switched to a 13-digit format. All ISBNs issued on or after that date are in the 13-digit format; all ISBNs issued prior to that date are in the 10-digit format.

International Standard Serials Number




This search field looks for the eight digit International Standard Serials Number (ISSN), where available. Hyphens are optional.




Use to search the issue number of a resource. Use in conjunction with the Volume field to create a more precise search query.




Use to locate the original language of the document. From 2005 forward, English the primary language of items indexed in ERIC.†  




Search for a specific geographic area or location of publication or about which an item is written.




This field can only be searched if the database has a thesaurus. The prefix MAINSUBJECT will be added to your search when you select the term from the Thesaurus or if you type the mnemonic. MAINSUBJECT is a way to limit to the subject heading originating from the thesaurus and does not include the use of terms coming from the location index, person index, company index or other classification terms. To search on terms that incorporate all of these subject and index terms, please use the Subject Heading field (SU).





NT("American Council of Education")

This fields is used to search for additional descriptive information available in records for materials indexed prior to 2005 (ED01000 - ED483046), e.g., a conference name or cross-reference to previous editions of a serial publication or other selections within the same publication by means of Clearinghouse Number(s).† When viewing the Citation/Abstract page in a ProQuest search result, this information will be found in the Supplemental data field of the "Indexing (details)" section.  **For more information on Clearinghouse Numbers see the Clearinghouse Numbers page of this guide under the "Searchable Fields" tab.





Use this field to search for a specific page or series of pages an article was published on or the total page count.  Note that the latter option will correspond to the Number of pages field in the "Indexing (details)" section of the Citation/Abstract page.

Place of Publication


CP("New York")



Use to locate articles published in a specific place. This will search for the city, county, or region of publication.

Publication date


PD(June 2012)

Use to find a specific publication date. Can be searched as:

(YYYYMMDD) = (20120629)

(YYYY and month) or (month and YYYY)= (2012 and June)

(YYYY) = 2012

The use of <, >, and – are supported to specify before or after a specific date and a date range (e.g., PD(>2005)).

Publication Title



PUB("British Journal of Educational Psychology")

Use to search for a specific publication such as the journal or book title.




Use to search for the publisher of the source such as the journal publisher.




Use the reference search field to look for the data in a cited reference. It will search all of the main components of a cited reference (cited author, cited document title, cited publication date, and cited publication title).

Report Number



The ERIC report number is used to identify reports created by various organizations, such as the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, and U.S. state and local as well as international departments of education. This number can often, but not always, be found in the title.



SRC("Adolescent Psychiatry") 

SRC("British Educational Research Journal")

This field searches for the entity from which ERIC acquires the content, including journal or organization name; or by means of online submission from the author.†  When viewing the Citation/Abstract page in a ProQuest search result, this information will be found in the Publication title field of the "Indexing (details)" section.

Source type*




STYPE("scholarly journals")

Use to find a specific source type such as books, dissertations and theses, reports, and scholarly journals.




SFL(Resources in Education)


Search the Subfile field to retrieve citations from either of the two printed journals that historically corresponded to the ERIC database.  To search for Resources in Education (RIE) or Current Index to Journals in Education (CIJE) use the full name or the abbreviated name in in the following sentence. This data remains in the backfile, however, the data has not been included for records with ERIC Document accession numbers greater than ED483046, while items that fall into the classification of ERIC Journals (accession numbers beginning with EJ) continue to be indexed in the CIJE.

Subject Heading(All)



SU("Teaching Methods")

Use the subject search field to look for articles about a specific subject. A search for the subject heading “reading,” will find articles with that subject as defined in the ERIC Thesaurus. To run an exact subject search where only “reading” is retrieved and not subject terms that contain additional terms, search using EXACT thusly:





Use to search for the volume of a resource. Use in conjunction with the Issue field to create a more precise search query.

* Indicates a Look up or Advanced Search Limit is available for the field. 

† Indicates information extracted from the ERIC website help files.