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Education Research at a Distance

A Guide to Library Research for Distance Learners in Education

This site has been created to assist you in exploring library resources related to your distance learning experience. Our library is one of the largest in the United States and it can be a bit overwhelming at first. We will try to make things a little easier for you, but don’t hesitate to ask questions.

Accessing Library Online Resources Off-Campus

  • When you first attempt to access an online resource such as an online database, e-book, or online journal from the Library website, you will be asked to log in using your University NetID and password. Additional information about the library proxy server, which allows people who are off-campus to access restricted databases, can be found on the Library Proxy Server for E-Resources page.
  • Problems?
    • If you are using the VPN (Virtual Private Networking) client to access the University of Illinois network off-campus, and are having trouble getting to library resources, you may need to see the Technology Services VPN page.
    • If problems persist, contact the Technology Services Help Desk.

Finding Articles

Journal articles are one of the primary means of communicating research ideas. They are an important component of academic research and give you some insight into ongoing debates and scholarly conversations about your topic.

Finding articles is a two-step process:

  • First, find the citation to the articles you want. You can use bibliographies or suggested readings lists, or you can search for the topic you are interested in by using one of the article databases listed below. If you get stuck, ask your professor or a librarian for help getting started. Most of the databases will allow you to email, print, or save your results, or export them to a citation manager.
  • Next, find the actual text of the articles you want. Many of our journals are online through the Journal & Article Locator but many of them are still available only in print format. If the journal article you are looking for is not available electronically, you will need to contact the Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery. That service can provide you with UIUC material if you live elsewhere as long as you are a registered distance education student and note that on the form.

Recommended Article Databases & Tutorials

Many other education related databases can be found at Resources in Education.

How do I manage all this information?

Citation management software is a tool that collects, stores and organizes citations from books, articles, web sites, and other sources. It can automatically format those citations into a bibliography in a multitude of different citation styles. The guide “Citation Managers” helps users choose a citation management tool and provides links to other guides on specific options like Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote.

Try out one of these options and discover how much easier it is to manage your research projects and papers!

How do I get copies of journal articles, books, and other items?

Library catalogs are used for two purposes:

First, if you know exactly what you are looking for – an exact title or author – you can use the catalog to locate your material. This works for book titles and journal titles.

Second, you can use library catalogs to discover material that might be helpful to you by doing subject and keyword searching.

Many of the records for journal titles in our catalog can link you to the electronic versions of these publications. If you do not see a link to an electronic version of a journal you need in the library catalog, go to Journal & Article Locator and search there for the journal title.

Library Catalog

Search the catalog to find print and online books, DVDs, magazines or journals, and many other resources. In addition to the 14 million volumes we have on this campus, you can connect to over 90 libraries in Illinois and request that books be sent to you at one of these Illinois libraries. If you are located outside of Illinois, you will want to check in your local libraries. You can find books in the nearest library through WorldCat but not all libraries will allow you to visit or use their collections, so call first. Keep in mind that you can also request UIUC owned material through the library as a registered distance education student. For information about requesting UIUC materials, visit the following library guide.

When you find something you want in the catalog, write down the following:

  • Location – in which library the item is kept (or libraries, if there are multiple copies)
  • Call Number – this number is essential for finding the item on the shelf
  • Status – is it available for you to check out?

You can then use this information when requesting that the item be sent to you or when you visit that library.


An international web service to verify citations for books that you cannot find elsewhere. Please note that even if you find that a nearby library has a book you need, you will still need to check to see if you are allowed to visit that library and borrow books. You should be able to request books from other libraries through your local public library’s interlibrary loan service.

Interlibrary Loan

The place to request journal articles that you cannot find at UIUC or electronically. Ordering journal articles via interlibrary loan is free and generally fairly quick. UIUC DocExpress is a service to have materials owned by UIUC copied on your behalf.  There is no charge for faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and staff.  Login to the UIUC DocExpress page to learn more or to place your request.

Support for Distance Students

The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning provides support for distance students M-F 8:30-5:00. Contact them for assistance with issues related to i-cards, campus e-mail, course tools, etc.

More Suggested E-Resources

  • Digest of Education Statistics
    Available both electronically as well as in print (370.973 Un3d1), the Digest of Education Statistics is the official U.S. authority for statistics on almost every aspect of education.
  • Education Full Text
    Education Full Text indexes and abstracts articles from journals and yearbooks published in the U.S. and elsewhere. Books relating to education published in 1995 or later are also indexed. Abstracting coverage begins with January 1994. Abstracts describe the content and scope of the source documents. Full-text coverage begins in January 1996.

Questions? Comments?

Feel free to Ask-A-Librarian for chat, e-mail or phone assistance or visit the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library if you are on campus.

One-on-One Research Consultation

If you want to set up an individual consultation about your research strategy or project, please fill out the Research Consultation Request form and indicate if you plan to visit in person or phone in.

For individual help with research, don’t hesitate to contact:

Nancy O’Brien (Education; S-Collection; Curriculum Materials; Tests)
Office: Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library, 101 Main Library
Phone: 217/333-2408
Email: npobrien@illinois.edu