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Help with Using Databases
What Is a Library Database?
A library database is a searchable online collection of any or all of these resources:
- The full text of magazine, journal, and newpaper articles.
- The full text of reference book entries, chapters of books, or entire books.
- Citations and/or abstracts (summaries) for the above types of items. With the citation, you have the necessary information to track down the document itself. By reading the abstract, you can determine if the publication itself will help you with your research.
- Videos, statistics, data, images, etc.
Why Should I Use the Library's Databases?
Library databases are good to use because the information in them is trustworthy by having been peer-reviewed or at least vetted by an editor or publisher. Even though you use the Internet to access the databases, you are NOT using what is considered an "Internet" or "web" source. Libraries pay to subscribe to databases, and thus, they are part of library collections in the same way that print books and periodicals are. Much of what is in library databases is from print sources. Instructors approve of students' using library databases to access information.
You will not be able to access much of the databases' content by using a search engine such as Google, and if you do, you may have to pay a fee in certain cases.
Your tuition helps to pay for the library's database subscriptions. So, make good use of the information in them!
What are Peer Reviewed Journals?
How to Search an EBSCOHost Database
Many of the databases the library subscribes to are from EBSCOhost. When you open one of those databases, you will see "EBSCOhost" near the top left of the screen.
This EBSCO webpage has a collection of video tutorials and PowerPoint slides for their products. See the section for EBSCOhost Tutorials.
Basic Information for Searching a Database
Stafford Library subscribes to databases containing the content of published journals, newspapers, magazines, and reference books. When using databases:
- Choose an appropriate subject-specific or multiple-subject database.
- Many databases have a basic and an advanced search option. Try using the advanced option for its capability to refine your search.
- Limiters allow you to restrict your search results, for example, to full-text sources, to scholarly/peer-reviewed/refereed journals, or to certain types of sources, such as articles, case studies, company reports, country reports, or industry overviews. Limiters are usually in the advanced search option.
- Look for subject terms listed in the descriptive information for the articles brought up in your search. These subject headings can be good words to enter as a search term, especially if you choose the option to search them as a subject.
- Some databases have a link for "subjects," "subject terms," or "thesaurus." Using that feature, you can enter a search term to see if that particular database classifies it as an official subject heading or to learn of a different term the database uses as the subject heading.
- Most databases have a help feature on the toolbar or somewhere else on the page. It will have search tips for that database.
- Contact us for help. See our contact information on the "Welcome" page of this guide.