The First Issue of Research in Education

Lee Burchinal

    I would consider the publication of the first issue of Research in Education, the monthly announcement bulletin of the ERIC system (now Resources in Education), that contained output from the ERIC Clearinghouses, as the most satisfying and significant event in my career as an information systems pioneer. The process leading to this event began in the Spring, 1965, when, with a few staff and a consultant, Dr. Fred Goodman, University of Michigan, I decided to stake my career on the development of a novel and risky design for the ERIC system. This was the decision to vest responsibility for document acquisition and processing in the hands of then inexperienced staff at subject-oriented clearinghouses, primarily at universities throughout the country. The decentralized design was contrary to the then and still conventional centralization of document acquisition and processing under one roof and tightly controlled by a single set of managers. But, given the decentralized American educational system, I felt we had to adopt a comparable decentralized design.
    With this decision made, we had to arrange for two other crucial elements in a decentralized network. These were the ERIC Facility, to receive output from the clearinghouses and produce a computer tape for printing Research in Education, at GPO and for the ERIC Document Reproduction Service for reproduction in microfiche and hardcopy of the documents announced in RIE. The first EDRS contract was awarded in November 1965, and the first ERIC Facility contract in May 1966. Both were with for-profit firms, another break from the practice of in-house government production. In the Spring and Summer, 1966 contracts were awarded for the establishment of 18 subject-based clearinghouses. In July 1967, the first issue of Research in Education with document resumes from the Clearinghouses appeared, marking the end of the beginning of the ERIC system. Other ERIC successes followed, including the production of Current Index to Journals in Education, to cover the journal literature; being one of the first federal systems available online; and seeing usage surge. But, the moment in July 1967, when we saw the first tangible monthly output of the ERIC system remains as my fondest memory of my information career at the Office of Education and later at the National Science Foundation.

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