NCEE Blog

National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

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 ericrequests@ed.gov 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 ERICRequests@ed.gov 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 ericrequests@ed.gov by March 11, 2024.