September 18, 2012

ERIC Addresses Privacy Concerns

ERIC Addresses Privacy Concerns
Issue 13 - September 2012
In early August, the ERIC management team and the U.S. Department of Education became aware that some full-text documents in the ERIC Collection contained personally identifiable information.  Sensitive information was found in multiple documents in a way that could not be easily isolated. The accessibility of this information to modern Internet search engines increases the risk that these details could be discovered and used improperly.  In order to safeguard individual privacy it was necessary to temporarily disable access to ERIC full-text documents.

We are working to restore access to full text as quickly as possible while protecting individual privacy.  While the vast majority of documents do not contain sensitive information, it remains necessary to identify and address each of those that do.

Each document must be checked to verify that it does not contain sensitive information. Given that there are more than 340,000 full-text documents in ERIC, this represents a significant undertaking.   The U.S. Department of Education is in the process of hiring a team to help restore access in a fast and responsive manner.  We anticipate that it will be possible to begin restoring access to large numbers of ERIC documents on a rolling basis later this fall.

An initial wave of more than 20,000 documents has already been restored.  This first restoration consists of peer-reviewed full-text documents such as Institute of Education Sciences (IES) publications and peer-reviewed journal articles (EJs). At this time, we cannot provide a precise estimate for complete restoration of full text.

Priority is being placed on documents requested by ERIC users. If you would like to request a PDF to be returned online, please referencing the document’s ERIC number (EDxxxxxx).  We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience as we work to resolve the situation.

ERIC is committed to keeping you informed as we move forward with this effort. Check the alerts and Spotlight area of the ERIC home page at for updates.

Temporary System Limitations

There are several known search and display limitations caused by the temporary restrictions on full-text access.  Specifically:
  • PDF links continue to display in ERIC records, even when full text is currently not available.
  • The ability to limit search results to only records with full text does not return reliable results.
As soon as the majority of full text is restored to the site, all features will return to normal operation.

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