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Library Research Skills for College Students: Step-by-Step

A step-by-step in-depth start to finish guide through the research process.

What is a Database?

   A Database is a Searchable Collection of Online Resources.

  • Popular Sources: newspapers, magazines, trade journals, streaming video, books and ebooks of general interest
  • Scholarly Sources: academic journals, scholarly/peer-reviewed articles, and books written by experts and professionals for specific interests and audience. 
  • Fact-checked information
  • Purchased/subscribed to by college and public libraries
  • Free to students and the public for with student ID or library card 
  • Different databases have different types of sources.
    • Reference databases: a variety of topics
      • Encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, almanacs, etc,
      • Credo Reference, Britannica, Funk & Wagnall New World Encyclopedia
    • Multiple-topic databases: a variety of topics 
      • Newspaper, magazines, trade journal academic journals, ebooks, streaming video
      • Examples: Academic Search Premier (EBSCO), Academic OneFile (Gale) , MasterFILE Complete (EBSCO) , Films on Demand, General OneFile, College (Gale in Context)
    • Subject-specific databases: single topic
      • Newspaper, magazines, trade journals academic journals, ebooks, streaming video, data, statistics, reports, charts
      • Examples: Business: Insights Global, Nexis Uni, Nursing and Allied Health (ProQuest), Psychology (Gale OneFile), Horticulture and Gardening (Gale OneFile), Criminal Justice Database (ProQuest), CultureGrams, Literature Resource Center (EBSCO), World History (Gale in Context)
    • Issues databases; current events and social issues
      • Newspaper, magazines, pro-con viewpoints, social issues, current events, podcasts
      • Examples: Opposing Viewpoints (Gale in Context), SIRS Issues Researcher (ProQuest), Contemporary Women's Issues (Gale OneFile), Gender Studies (Gale OneFile).

You can search library databases using: keywords, titles, authors, magazine or newspaper names, subject links found in each of the databases.

Tool iconFilter icon

Databases have tools and filters to help you you narrow in on the articles you need.

  • Basic and Advanced Search Boxes - enter a single word, or multiple words
  • Results Lists - a list of sources that match the terms you entered into the search box.
    • Pay attention to: Type of  Source, Descriptions, Subjects, and Dates
  • Full-Text Filter - click the this box to eliminate articles that show only a summary and not the complete article.
  • Other Filter Tools - narrow your search by date, types of sources, subjects, language, etc
  • Item Records - when you click on the title of an article in the Results List - you will see a page of details that include the name of the author and source, lists of Subject Terms (useful for further searches), and abstracts (summary of article)
  • Email, Save, or Download Tools
  • Citation Tools - copy/paste the citation into your paper. (They may or may not be 100% correct, double-check with a guide manual)

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