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Research 101 - Finding Articles: Research Databases

Get the basics on articles & databases!

Person w/ hands raised & question mark above headWhat is a Research Database?

Research databases are the best online tools to use to search for articles on your topic:

  • They include information about articles that have been published in journals, magazines, and newspapers.
  • Some databases even provide access to book reviews, film reviews, dramas, financial reports, and many other sources of information. Many of the articles listed in the databases are available in full-text format.

Full-text means the entire text of the article is available online. You can read, print, or email the article directly from the computer.

Image courtesy of CLIP Tutorial. Retrieved from May 2015.

Should I Use Research Databases or the World Wide Web?

Research databases are the best place to find articles and many other types of scholarly or professional information on your topic.

Consider these 3 points--Click on each to learn more:

  • The articles you are looking for are not free! Libraries subscribe and pay for publications such as journals, magazines, and newspapers that contain articles.
  • The library also pays a fee for the databases.
  • The publishing companies that produce these journals and databases need to make a profit and, therefore, do not publish their articles on the Internet for free.
  • Although there are specialized scholarly search engines, many of the hits you would find using a regular search engine (like Bing or Google) would not be scholarly information
  • Much of the scholarly information you could find using a search engine would not be freely available as full text
  • Databases are a bit more complicated than search engines, which means you can do some pretty amazing power searching to find just what you need.
  • In a database, you won't have 300,000 hits to sift through!

How to Select the Best Database for your Needs

(1) Go to our Databases Page:

  1. Go to the Library Home page
  2. Click on Databases

(2) Select Your Databases in 1 of 2 Ways:

  • Alphabetically
  • By subject area you wish to research

A-Z Databases home page with options to search by Subject or alphabetically

We have over 200 databases! Which one(s) do you choose? Click on the buttons below to find out.

Academic Search Complete - A great starting point for any topic! This database offers full-text coverage of information in many areas of academic study. and includes articles from newspapers, magazines, & scholarly (academic) journals

To get to Academic Search Complete:

    • From the library home page, click on Databases
    • Go to the Databases page and click on A-C
    • Then click on Academic Search Complete 

To look for articles on global warming, for example, you can look in several databases, depending on what you want to search for:

Learn How to Search in Some of our Most Common Databases

Getting Started:

Advanced Searching:

Screen image of database search results with option to limit to "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals"To Search for Scholarly Articles

Look for an option in the database to limit your results to any of the following:

  • Academic journals
  • Scholarly journals
  • Peer-reviewed journals

Take the Challenge!

Go to our A-Z Databases page (opens in new window), and answer the following. Test your know-how by clicking on the links below to view the answers!

Academic Search Complete – It’s almost always a great starting place! It is a database that covers multiple disciplines.

And it's the first one listed in our Databases A-Z alphabetical list (opens in new window)!

  • Academic Search Complete – a great start for almost any topic!
  • Health & Medicine databases – if you wanted to write about medical research in this area
  • Psychology databases – if you wanted to research on abortion with regard to emotions, attitudes, or mental health
  • Sociology databases – if you wanted to write about a particular society’s attitudes or practices of abortion
  • Theology databases – if you wanted to research on a particular religion’s beliefs regarding abortion

Take another look at our Databases page (opens in new window) and see what you can find!

Since your core ideas = (a) social media, (b) presidential elections, and (c) United States, these would be some good possible keyword search strategies:

  • “social media” and “presidential elections” and “united states”
  • Facebook and “presidential election” and “united states”
  • “social media” and presidents and “united states”

Now go to Academic Search Complete (in new window) and see what you can find!

The more words you add to your search with the word AND, the greater the combination of words the database tries to match in each of the records it searches, making the number of possible matches decrease.