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BIOL 171: First year seminar

Selecting a databases

Use databases to find materials related to specific subject areas. Each database contains a multitude of journals and other resources for you to use in finding material for you own research.

When selecting a database, be mindful of three things:

  1. What subject(s) does the database cover? 
    • Although librarians do their best to classify databases into appropriate subject areas, some databases cover certain subject areas better than others. Looking in Aquatic Commons for articles about air pollution won't do much good.
    • Similarly, consider the kinds of research you expect to find in a database. Most databases in science subject areas contain articles with scientific analysis; that is, they're very data-driven and focused on showing results of experiments and observation. Looking in history, political science, sociology, and education databases for the same keywords will give you very different results.
  2. What date range does the database cover?
    • Databases can only cover a specific range of time. You'll need to be sure to consider how recent the material in the database is when selecting a database to use.
  3. What types of material does the database cover?
    • Most of the research you're expecting in academic research is in scholarly journal articles. And those kinds of articles are most of the resources that databases have in them. Some databases will have other types of material in them, such as
      • audio/visual material
      • book chapters
      • book reviews
      • conference proceedings
      • dissertations
      • magazine or newspaper articles
      • statistical data

 

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