ERIC Users Forum ALA Annual 2007

Date: Sunday, 6/24/2007

Time: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Location: Capital Hilton, Senate Room, Washington, DC

Wil Frost presided and welcomed the audience and the panel, members of the ERIC Project Team: Judy Beck, Acquisitions and Processing Lead; Nancy Cawley, Communications Lead; Pete Dagutis, Associate Project Director; Larry Henry, Project Director; and Sue Weiss, Lexicography Team Lead.

The ERIC update presented by the panel included the following topics:

  1. Content Update
  2. Project to Digitize Microfiche Documents
  3. New and Enhanced Web Site Features
  4. ERIC Thesaurus

1. Content Update (Judy Beck)

65,400 records added since 2004

17,400 of the records were accessioned from January-May 2007

Content providers now include:

  •   200+ journal providers
  •   480+ Non-journal provider agreements signed
  •   80+ federal entities
  •   52+ book publishers

Looking to close the 2002-2003 gap

Full text display options

Monitoring title and publisher changes

Identifying and researching new sources, including journals and grey literature

Concise, accurate, and timely representation of every document is a goal

Objective of less than 30-day processing time for incoming items

Objective of at least 1,000 records published online each week

Responding to a question from the audience, the panelists emphasized that ERIC is an English language database; some international materials from English-speaking countries (Great Britain and Australia in particular) are included, but other international material is considered only when available with an English translation.

2. Project to Digitize Microfiche Documents (Pete Dagutis)

340,000 ERIC documents were accessioned from 1966 to 1992 (40+ million images)

250,000 unique authors

Goal is to have these items converted to electronic format by March 2009 when the CSC ERIC contract with the US Department of Education is scheduled to end

Vendors will receive added full-text content in July 2007 and monthly thereafter

Documents will be scanned in reverse chronological order from 1992 to 1966

Explicit permission will be required to release items in electronic full-text form, either from the copyright holder or from the estate if the owner is deceased

Phase 1 (completed)

  • 62,000+ documents from the period 1992-1988 have been scanned
  • Permissions for 20,000 of the 62,000 documents were received as of May 29, 2007
  • Documents will be loaded and attached to ERIC records only after permission is received
  • 20,000 documents were released in electronic format on the government ERIC site on June 24, 2007

Phase 2 (in progress)

  • Convert the 275,000 remaining documents from 1987 and earlier
  • Permission has been received for 29,000 of those documents
  • Release documents accessioned during the years 1988-1992 on a monthly basis as permissions received
  • New content and changes to existing records to be released monthly

3. New and Enhanced Web Site Features (Larry Henry)

Redesigned ERIC web site was released in the fall of 2006

  • Home page was restructured and streamlined for faster loading
  • “Contribute to the ERIC Collection” section was added with access to an online submission form and a new page for publishers
  • “In the Spotlight” section of news, facts, and features with count of records added in the last month was also added
  • Enhanced search engine: faster, allows exact word searching, new sorting option with relevance ranking as the default
  • Improved journal list – years of coverage and number of articles indexed
  • New journal agreements added to list of journals indexed about quarterly (most recent update done in February 2007)

Recent changes

  • ERIC Digitization Project Section on the web site
  • “Find in a Library” OpenURL feature via OCLC WorldCat Local helps searchers identify where materials might be found
  • New “Related Items” feature on the Record Details page provides links to related records
  • New training materials are being developed

In response to a question about books indexed in ERIC, the ERIC team indicated that the aim is to provide a selective list of the best book titles in education, not a complete list of all books.

4. ERIC Thesaurus Update (Sue Weiss)

Purpose of Thesaurus is to allow standardized indexing that facilitates search and retrieval

Reasons for updating: improve indexing, improve retrieval

Distinction between major and minor descriptors no longer supported

Dates of usage being removed from descriptors where they occur

Category of changes

  Reinstated terms

  Added scope notes

  Edited scope notes

  Added cross references

  New descriptors

  Accommodations for terms with multiple meanings (new descriptors)

Various examples of descriptor changes were shown

Questions from the Audience

Q:  Please expand on areas of grey literature under consideration for inclusion.

A:  ERIC has almost 500 sources for gray literature under agreement and acquires the materials from over 80 federal agencies. As these sources are culled, additional sources are identified. The staff works with known experts in the fields to identify gray resources. Gray literature is also submitted by individuals through the ERIC Online Submission system and can include conference papers, individual research projects and papers, commission reports, agency reports, and papers from other organizations, among other types of materials. Gray materials are from non-journal and non-commercial sources.

Q:  Gray literature? Does the source come to ERIC or does ERIC pursue the source?

A:  It works both ways. ERIC personnel identify sources on an on-going basis and seek agreements with appropriate organizations, agencies, or other entities. It is not a simple process to “know” the universe of available gray literature, but this is an ongoing priority for ERIC.

Q:  What about Open Access journals (which some members of the audience felt should be included)?

A:  Open Access journals are a new source for ERIC gray literature; however, if the journal is of a temporary nature it cannot be included. One issue with Open Access journals is that ERIC encourages publishers to provide a link in ERIC to the full text. This can be problematic for Open Access journals because often the publishers want to attract searchers to the native interface for tracking purposes.

Q:  Are association materials being included? Are they able to submit online? Are we losing association resources?

A:  ERIC pursues association publications but some associations worry about economic issues and do not want to give up control of their full-text content. Small association staffs are another issue in terms of staff time available. ERIC offers to serve as an archive for association publications. Association materials are not typically submitted through the Online Submission System. ERIC is constantly working with education-related associations to acquire gray literature for inclusion in ERIC.

Q:  Are you watching the growth of institutional repositories?

A:  Yes, on radar screen.

Q:  When we consider the level 1 & 2 retrospective coverage when can librarians throw away microfiche? Level 3 never any content? Lists of released documents available? [combined questions]

A:  For Level 3 documents there was never any full-text content available on microfiche. There was only the citation and abstract. These fiche could be discarded at any time. Level 1 and 2 document fiche could be discarded as full-text is released in digital format. This will be a policy discussion for each institution. ERIC intends to scan all documents but can only release them in digital format after permission is received. National Library of Education has committed to be make any ERIC document with full-text available via Interlibrary Loan either directly or via the OCLC interlibrary loan process. ERIC will investigate ways to compile lists of documents that local institutions might use to identify fiche to discard.

Q:  Will ERIC reconsider its decision to not include lesson plans?

A.  Probably not.

Q:  What is happening with Identifiers? Used to be considered descriptors in waiting?

A:  In Identifier Field you find terms related to proper names, geographic areas, laws and legislation, tests and testing. Legacy file will still have Identifiers. Identifiers are no longer considered descriptors in waiting. ERIC is evaluating existing identifiers now for inclusion in the thesaurus.

Q:  How do you obtain permission to release materials in digital format from a person who is deceased?

A:  Communication goes to the estate of the deceased person.

Q:  How can microfiche be recycled?

A:  Pete Dagutis will investigate.

Q:  What happened to Thesaurus in the last major revision?

A:  In 2004 there was a large revision and deletion of rarely used terms. Dates indicating the history of the use of a term will be taken out of the descriptor itself and instead embedded within the thesaurus record.

Q:  In the past there was the very useful distinction noted by Major and Minor descriptors. This was useful to researchers who were doing an overview and only consulted Major descriptors, versus the researcher who was doing comprehensive research and therefore consulted both Major and Minor descriptors. Could we return this option?

A:  The decision to eliminate this distinction in 2004 will not be changed. While ERIC requests the full text of journal articles for indexing purposes not all publishers are able or willing to provide it. It is not possible to make major/minor distinctions without the full text.

Q:  Grade level still to be included?

A:  Yes, educational level is in a separate field now.

Q:  Is there a list of educational levels available?

A:  Yes, in the Help file. Discussion suggested that different vendors offer different ways to search for educational levels.

Q:  What is the status of the Department of Education’s project to identify the peer review status of journals indexed in ERIC? (several questions combined)

A:  Chris Dunn, from the National Library of Education, took the platform and explained that each title will be researched, including legacy titles. Chris asked what kind of input the education library community would like to have. Is there other information about journals that should be collected as each title is checked? For example, does the community want name changes noted in journal records? ISSN numbers? Date when a journal became peer reviewed? Indication of partial peer review? Identification of professional or trade journals? Blind review versus other methods of review? Extended discussion ensued. It was generally agreed that further discussion could occur online via the EBSS discussion list.