The Library provides access to many different types of databases that are unavailable for free. These databases can be categorized in different ways including topic, scope, type of information, full text content and more.
Bibliographic/Full text databases provide information about articles published on topics. These could be published in newspapers, magazines, or in academic journals. Some databases cover a wide variety of publications while others are limited to one type -- newspapers or journals, for example.
Data Repositories. provide access to statistics or data. Examples would include Data-Planet and American Factfinder.
Audio/Video databases offer access to media -- videos, music, etc.
Some databases provide access to articles on a wide variety of topics -- Academic Search Premier, from EBSCOHost is one of the most popular. Others may limit their content to a particular subject or field of study -- such as EconLit for economics.
Some databases have limits on the content provided -- such as dates covered. For example JSTOR is a very popular databases but many of the journals don't provide access to the most recent articles -- there may be a 3-5 year wait. Other databases may provide the current issue as soon as it is published.
Most databases today provide access to at least some full-text content, but some may only provide the raw text without images, tables, etc. Some may provide Adobe PDF files while others will not.
If you have questions about the best database(s) to use for your research use one of the Library's research guides or contact your librarian.
Choosing what keywords to search starts with your topic. Pick out the main ideas you are looking for and use them as a starting point. For example, if your topic is "The effects of global warming on agricultural production" your two main ideas are "global warming" and "agricultural production." "Effects" could also be considered an idea, but it can be very difficult to search, so I would not try to use it initially.
Also, think of other related terms to your main ideas. If your initial terms don't work, you can try others. For example:
Green House Effect
If the database you are using has a thesaurus or a subject list, you may want to try searching that first to see what the 'official' term is for that database as well as to get an idea of other terms to look for.
When entering search terms in the search box be sure to spell them correctly. Don't trust the database to choose the correct spelling.
If you find a useful article, don't just go to the full-text. Look at the article record to see what subject headings have been assigned to it. These may also be good terms to try.
Note: All of these items may not be included, but you should see most of them in the full-text.
|Who is the Audience?
|Do you think it is intended for experts and other researchers or for a more general audience?
|Who are the authors?
|Scholarly articles will usually provide affliliaton information for the authors.
|Does it contain a comprehensive abstract?
|The abstract will provide information about the type of research, the participants, and the results.
|Does it contain a literature review?
|If it doesn't, look elsewhere.
|Does it contain tables, charts, and graphs illustrating findings?
|Does it contain a section on possibilities for more research?
If you find a relevant paper see if the works cited list is available. Many database now include that information as well as information on other papers that have cited the one you have. This can help you find more sources.
If you are having trouble, contact your librarian. We are here to help you with your research.