IES Blog

Institute of Education Sciences

Changes to the ERIC Selection Policy

ERIC’s selection policy guides the types of materials it catalogs. It gives the ERIC team guidelines to determine if a source is a good fit for the ERIC collection. On a periodic basis, the team reviews the selection policy to ensure it is transparent and accurate. We often find that we have developed working policies to supplement the official selection policy and use the review process to formalize our processes.

As part of the latest update, ERIC proposes four major changes: (1) improvements in providing public access to federally funded work, (2) periodically re-reviewing all sources, (3) re-prioritization of international content, and (4) changes to online submission. ERIC is asking the community to provide feedback on these changes to ensure the policy is clear and effective. To learn more about the ERIC Selection Policy, please access the draft policy and watch a recorded webinar explaining changes. Please submit all questions and feedback to by March 11, 2024.

Embracing new public access policies

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) recently released a new plan to improve public access to federally funded articles. This is part of a government-wide initiative to ensure that taxpayers can access the research that they funded. This policy expands upon the 2012 public access policy that required all IES funded research be available to the public via ERIC. There are several key elements of the policy, listed below, that will impact how federally funded research will be displayed in ERIC.

First, all work funded under this new policy will be available in a machine-readable format. This means that the text and figures in any work will be displayed as website text. This will enable users to access the article without downloading the PDF. Additionally, data scientists will be able to bulk download and use the full text for their analysis. It will also make ERIC easier to use on mobile and tablets.

Second, all work will be in ERIC shortly after becoming publicly available. Under the current public access policy, the full text becomes available 12 months after the official publication date. The new public access plan states that awardees must submit the full text to ERIC immediately after the article is made publicly available (that is, when it is released as an “online first” article). This means the public will get access to the full text approximately 18 months earlier than under the current policy.

Lastly, ERIC will be providing increased metadata for these articles. All awardees must have an ORCID iD and author affiliation linked in their records to provide transparency on who authored the research. There will be a DOI permalink to all articles to ensure that users can find the articles in perpetuity. We will change the way that we link to grant funding information to be transparent about what IES is funding. And lastly, all work will have a link to the underlying data. This will help users make connections about who funded the work and for what purposes.

To implement the new policy, ERIC is changing how we catalog grantee submissions. Currently ERIC has two entries for many articles: the journal version of the article and the grantee submission record. Going forward, we will catalog the full text article and with increased metadata under the journal’s source name. There will only be one accession number for the article. Procedurally, this means that we will be updating many articles after they are formally published in a journal and have complete metadata. Awardee articles in sources not regularly cataloged in ERIC will still be cataloged under the grantee submission source name.

Re-review process

The current selection policy for ERIC states that once a source is approved for ERIC, it will remain in ERIC as long as it continues to publish content. Historically, the majority of our sources continue to publish content that meets ERIC’s standards and mission and remains a good fit for ERIC. However, for other sources we have seen a dramatic change in scope, quality, or quantity of articles.

In this new selection policy, we will re-review all new sources three years after initial acceptance in ERIC. After the initial re-review, we will re-review all sources every 5 years to make sure all of our content continues to meet ERIC’s standards. These reviews will happen automatically, and publishers will only be notified if their source is not selected to go forward. Additional re-reviews may happen more frequently for situations such as a change in scope, a source name change, current content is not provided, or if there is a dramatic increase in journal frequency of publication or a dramatic increase in published journal content. If a source has been acquired by a new publisher, a re-review will automatically be conducted, and a new agreement established to continue cataloging in ERIC.

To ensure that review decisions are not arbitrary, all decisions will be reviewed by multiple individuals and publishers will be notified if their source is not selected to continue. We expect that these decisions will be final, but also know that there may be cases where the ERIC team does not have full information. We will consider additional information if an editor or publisher believed our decision was incorrect. If the source is not reinstated, then they are eligible to be re-reviewed after 36 months.

Re-thinking our approach to foreign content

In the almost 60 years of ERIC’s existence, ERIC has become a repository of education research from around the world. Over half of ERIC’s users are international and much of our content is published outside of the United States. While international content is valued by ERIC, there is a tension that ERIC is a digital library funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, an agency within the US Department of Education. IES’s mission is to provide scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information in formats that are useful and accessible to educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public across the United States. While ERIC has always had a large international audience, the primary mission of ERIC is to share information for a US-based audience.

ERIC has a limited budget to catalog content and there is more high-quality content that meets our selection standards than IES can afford to regularly catalog. As we are looking at how to prioritize our content, we need to focus on our mission. This means that we need to prioritize the needs of educators in the United States.

Going forward, to prioritize the cataloging of content relevant to US educators, ERIC is going to select international sources from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries where English is the primary or most used language both within schools and within society – that is, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Sources from these countries will go through the same ERIC review process. That is, we plan to catalog all content from these countries that meet our selection standards.

Additionally, ERIC will review sources from outside of these countries that are directly relevant to the work of education in the US, its territories and freely associated states, and military bases overseas. For example, if a publisher based in the Netherlands publishes a journal on early childhood education in the US, we review it against the selection standards and catalog it if it meets the standards. Similarly, if a source from Japan publishes a journal on comparative education policy, it will be selected if it meets the standards.

Lastly, ERIC is interested in sources to balance the collection in terms of geographic and topical diversity. This means that there may be international sources that meet ERIC’s standards but are not selected for ERIC because we either have too many sources on that topic or too many sources from that country.

So, what does that mean for our international users? First, ERIC will continue to be available to our international audience. Our website and metadata will continue to be free and open to use. We want to encourage international users to keep using ERIC. But users may see a decrease in the number of sources from countries outside of the US that only publish international content or limited comparative content.

Changing our approach to online submission

Under this new policy, ERIC proposes to no longer accept journal articles through online submission. We found that some journal editors would use the online submission tool to bypass the formal review process. We believe it is more valuable for our users to have journal articles cataloged with the appropriate metadata and source name. If a publisher or editor believes they are a good candidate for ERIC, we want to encourage them to reach out at and go through the formal review process.

ERIC will still accept other types of content through the online submission. Users can submit reports, white papers, conference papers, and other research meeting ERIC’s selection policy. These will continue to be cataloged in PDF format.

The ERIC team is excited about these changes and wants to hear any question, comments, or concerns. Please email any feedback to by March 11, 2024.

Taking a pause…

In a first for ERIC, the supply of education research content the program aspires to index is regularly exceeding its capacity to do so. For the past 15 years, ERIC has consistently indexed 4,000 records a month. This pace has allowed us to index all approved sources without significant delays. However, over the past two years, the volume of content published in our approved sources has doubled. This has resulted in a backlog of publishable content and, as a result, ERIC cannot index new work in a timely fashion.

As part of our periodic collection analyses, we have been investigating potential causes of this backlog. We have found that several journals are publishing far more content than when they were originally selected to be included in ERIC. For example, one journal was publishing fewer than 20 articles per year when approved, but now is publishing over 850 per year. This is close to a 5000% increase in production.

An increased volume of published work in the education sciences—as a whole—is a good thing. However, when an individual journal dramatically increases the number of articles it publishes, it is noteworthy. In those instances, ERIC wants to ensure that the journal is still adhering to the standards and criteria it met when originally included in the index, including rigorously applying the peer-review process, if applicable, and maintaining its original aim and scope. Both are important to ensuring that work contained in ERIC is of high quality and that a wide range of key topics in education can be indexed.

ERIC’s Selection Policy already requires an ongoing review of currently indexed sources, including identifying sources that may no longer meet the Policy’s standard and criteria. As part of that review, ERIC will now identify journals that have published over twice as many articles from the year it was accepted and flag them for further review. As part of that review, ERIC will assess whether the increase is temporary and associated with a unique event, like a special issue, or if the increase reflects an ongoing trend. If the review indicates the increase is persistent, the ERIC team will recommend that indexing of that journal be paused. If a pause is approved, ERIC will stop indexing subsequent issues for a two-year period. The journal will also be removed from ERIC’s Journals List, because this list only contains actively indexed journals.

After the two-year pause, ERIC will re-review the journal. If ERIC reinstates the journal, ERIC will notify the journal and will index any content published during the two-year pause. If the journal is not reinstated, ERIC will not index any issues published during the pause.

This decision has led to a few questions:

  • Why can’t ERIC index everything? ERIC is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences and has limited resources. It must prioritize indexing the highest quality education research, include content for all topic areas, and can only index a set number of records per month.
  • What is the concern with the increased volume? Increased volume may signal that the journal has changed scope to accommodate a broader set of articles or that quality assurance processes have been affected in a rush-to-publish environment. Particularly among journals that were considered to be peer reviewed when originally accepted into ERIC, the publication of articles shortly after submission may signal a substantive change in a journal’s quality assurance process such that they no longer meet the criteria needed to receive that designation. There is also a concern that if a journal greatly produces more records than estimated, the collection will get skewed in a way which would favor one topic area over another.
  • How will ERIC identify the journals to pause? As part of the source selection process, ERIC will monitor two years of current publishing and compare the number of articles published to the number published during the year the journal was selected for ERIC.
  • Why is the pause for two years? The ERIC Selection Policy says that sources may be reviewed after 2 years (24 months). To be consistent with this policy, we will automatically review paused sources after this same time frame.
  • How will I know if my journal is paused? ERIC will email the journal representatives to inform them of this decision in the coming weeks.
  • Can my journal appeal the decision to be paused? Journals may not appeal the decision to pause indexing. However, if at the end of the pause period the journal is not automatically reinstated, journals may apply for re-review 24 months later.
  • What is ERIC looking for in the automatic review at the end of the pause period? ERIC will conduct a full review of the journal and consider the two years of published content against the criteria set forth in the ERIC Selection Policy.
  • Can authors submit their article published in a “paused” journal via online submission during this period? No, authors must wait for a re-review of the journal to be conducted after the two-year pause. If the journal is selected again, the articles from the paused issues will be indexed in ERIC.

Reducing the Burden to Grantees While Increasing the Public’s Access to IES Funded Research

In 2011 the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) adopted the IES Public Access Policy. This policy requires all IES grantees and contractors to submit their final peer-reviewed manuscripts to ERIC. ERIC then makes the work freely available to the public 12 months after publication. Operationally, this has required all grantees and some contractors to submit their work through ERIC’s Online Submission portal. To date, over 1,400 articles have been submitted as a result of this policy.

As part of an effort to minimize burden for our grantees and contractors, ERIC has negotiated agreements with the publishers of over 600 education journals to display publicly funded articles in ERIC 12 months after publication or sooner. If grantees or contractors publish their work in a participating journal, the journal will submit the full text to ERIC on behalf of the grantee. The grantee will not need to submit their work to the ERIC Online Submission portal. This is the same process currently implemented for work published by IES.

To ensure that their work is included, grantees and contractors are responsible for:

  • Including their grant or contract number(s) in the acknowledgements section of the published article.
  • Confirming that the journal title, publisher, and year matches ERIC’s list of participating journals.
  • Informing their publishers that they are subject to the IES Publication Policy when their manuscript is submitted.

This policy takes effect starting for work published after January 1, 2020. Grantees who published work prior to 2020 will still need to submit their work through ERIC’s Online Submission portal. Similarly, grantees publishing in journals not participating in this program will need to submit their work through the Online Submission portal. If an article was accepted by a journal that was participating in this program, but then the journal moved to a publisher that is not participating, the grantee will have to submit the article to ERIC using the ERIC Online Submission portal

ERIC is working to expand the list of journals who agree to display the full text of grantee articles. ERIC will update the list of participating journals multiple times a year, as new publishers sign agreements to participate in this program or journals move to a non-participating publisher. Publishers interested in participating should email for more information.

Increasing Access to Education Research

by Erin Pollard, ERIC Project Officer

IES funds approximately $237 million of research a year in order to provide practitioners and policymakers with the information they need to improve education. But what good is that research if it sits behind a paywall and the people who need it the most can’t access it? That is the thought behind IES’s Public Access Policy. It requires all of our grantees and contractors to make the full text of any peer reviewed work that we funded freely available through ERIC within a year of publication.

Before the policy was adopted in 2011, the majority of the work funded by the National Center for Education Research and National Center for Special Education Research appeared in peer reviewed journals. These journals are largely subscription based; meaning only those who had access to a library with a subscription could access the articles. Given that journal subscriptions are frequently over $1,000 per journal per year and annual subscriptions for academic databases start at close to $10,000 per year, many smaller schools and districts simply cannot afford to purchase access to high quality research. Their teachers and administrators must rely on freely available resources.

IES wanted to change the model. We believe that because IES-supported research is publicly funded, the results should be publicly available. We have worked with publishers, editors, and grantees to find a way to make our policy mutually beneficial.

We are not alone in this effort. IES is part of a larger federal initiative to make most research findings publicly available. Federal agencies are coordinating to adopt similar policies all across the government to increase the availability of good science and to improve evidence-based decision making.

Since we adopted the policy 5 years ago we have been able to make more than 600 publications freely available in ERIC and will be able to release 250 more in the next year. This is just the beginning. We expect more and more work to become available each year. Because ERIC powers other search engines and academic databases with its metadata, we are disseminating these full text articles widely, wherever users are looking for their research. By giving teachers, administrators and policymakers access to high quality research, we are able to get our work into the hands of the people who can use it to build a brighter future for our Nation’s students.

Why Can’t You Just Use Google Instead of ERIC?

By Erin Pollard, ERIC Program Officer

The Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) provides the public with free, online access to a scholarly database of education research. We are frequently asked why the government sponsors such a tool when people can use Google or a subscription-based scholarly database.  

Commercial search engines and scholarly databases are important, but would not function as efficiently without ERIC’s metadata to power their search engines. Because of the costs associated with indexing, commercial and scholarly search engines would likely prioritize the work from major publishers, and may not index the work from small publishers on a regular basis.

But ERIC has built national and global relationships with key publishers, research centers, government entities, universities, education associations, and other organizations to disseminate their materials. We are currently under agreement with 1,020 different publishers, many of whom are small and only publish a single journal or report series.

For more than 50 years, ERIC has been acquiring grey literature (e.g., reports from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and other government reports, white papers, and conference papers) and making it centrally available and free-of-charge to the public. Therefore, an ERIC user is just as likely to find a relevant conference paper from a smaller publisher as they are to find a journal article from a major publisher. (See infographic (PDF) above to learn more about who uses ERIC)

ERIC also ensures that all records indexed meet a set of quality guidelines before indexing, and provides tools, such as a peer-review flag, that can help users evaluate the quality of the material. Underlying all of ERIC’s records are a set of metadata that helps guide users to the resources they are seeking. The metadata also includes descriptors from ERIC’s Thesaurus, a widely recognized, controlled vocabulary of subject-specific tags in the education field. Descriptors are added to each record and used by search engines to pinpoint results.

Lastly, and most importantly, ERIC provides access to more than 380,000 full-text resources, including journal articles and grey literature and makes these articles available for perpetuity. ERIC has been around for more than 50 years and has collected materials in hard copy, microfiche, and PDF. These materials are publicly available even after organizations or journals cease operations or redesign their website in a way that makes materials no longer available. In any given month, over 25% of ERIC’s new records are peer reviewed and provide free full text. Additionally, about 4% of journals provide peer-reviewed full text after an embargo. This includes work from IES grantees that normally appears in journals behind a paywall, but ERIC can make available through the IES Public Access Policy.

ERIC’s comprehensive collection, metadata, and access to full text articles make it an important resource for researchers, students, educators, policy makers and the general public. 

Want to learn more about ERIC? Watch this short video introduction or check out our multimedia page for access to other videos, infographics, and webinars.