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North Texas Now @ UNT Frisco with Profs. Dumaine & Mintun

This is a course page for the dual credit North Texas Now @ UNT Frisco with Profs. Dumaine & Mintun.


What is a database?

A database is an organized collection of information and data, generally stored and accessed electronically from a computer system. Library database contain indexed article, author, keyword, subject, and more information about publications from journals. These databases are developed and hosted by vendors, to whom the library pays for access to published content. 

UNT has over 600 databases. Many of these database have similar features, search options, and limiters that can help do scholarly and peer-reviewed research for your classes. Databases can be interdisciplinary, meaning they contain journals from several academic disciplines and field or can be specialized for a certain field, discipline, document type, or researcher level. As your research skills and interests grow, using specialized databases is essential, but while you are getting started in college, an interdisciplinary database is a great place to find resources.

If you have difficulty using databases or cannot find what you looking for, AskUs or contact a librarian for help. 

To access a database off campus, you will need your UNT EUID and Password to log into the database system.

Interdisciplinary Databases

Why Use a Database Instead of Google or Google Scholar?

Here are some reasons why using database is better than Google or Google Scholar:

Saves you Money:

  1. Your library use fee pays for you to have access to databases while at UNT. Why not use the money your have already spent for better research materials?
  2. When doing searches through Google or Google Scholar, you often encounter a paywall or a notice that asks you to pay money to access the resources. With access to over 600 databases, UNT libraries has access to hundreds of thousands of articles. There is a good chance, UNT has access to the content already.
    • In the odd chance, UNT doesn't have access to the item, you can request the item from ILL and UNT Libraries will pay for the item on your behalf.

Better Information:

  1. In academia, your professors are going to want high, quality information that is scholarly (written for an academic or educational audience) and/or peer-reviewed (reviewed by a collection of "experts" and approved for publication). This type of information is typically only found in academic journals which often only databases index and provide access too. 

Find Articles in Databases

Identify the keywords in your research question.

Keywords are words that carry content and meaning. The keywords in the research  question "What is the feeding range of the blue whale in the Pacific Ocean?" are feeding range, blue whale and Pacific Ocean.

Brainstorm synonyms for your keywords.

Think of words similar to your keywords in case a database doesn't use your original keywords. Synonyms for blue whale are baleen whale and Balaenoptera musculus.

Create Boolean searches using the keywords.

A Boolean search is a search using the words AND, OR and NOT between the keywords. These words have a special function when used in a database.

  • The search [blue whale AND Pacific Ocean] will find all of the articles that contain both words. AND makes your search narrower.
  • The search [blue whale OR Balaenoptera musculus] will find all articles that contain one word, or the other, or both. OR is placed between synonyms and makes your search broader.
  • The search [blue whale NOT Atlantic Ocean] will find all articles containing "blue whale" and exclude the articles that also contain "Atlantic Ocean." NOT excludes articles that you don't want.  
Enter your Boolean searches in the Advanced Search of a database.

Always go to the Advanced Search in a database to enter your Boolean searches because it gives you multiple boxes with the Boolean operators between them. If you are using a search with multiple search strings, enter OR within the search boxes and AND between the search boxes, e.g., [blue whale OR Balaenoptera musculus] AND [feeding range OR feeding grounds] AND [Pacific Ocean].

Add keywords to limit the type of article you retrieve.

If you want a literature review, add "AND review" to your keywords. To find a research study, add "AND study" to your keywords.

Use the truncation symbol (or wildcard symbol) to search for word variations.

You can avoid doing multiple searches for variations on word endings using the truncation symbol * (the asterisk) in most databases.  Entering the keyword "blue whale*" will look for both blue whale and blue whales.

The UNT Libraries make over 80 databases available to you through EBSCOhost. Some of the databases you may have heard of before are Academic Search CompleteMLA International Bibliography, and PsycINFO. The Advanced Search in these databases gives you powerful tools to focus your search. Once you've learned to search in EBSCOhost, then you'll find most other databases work the same way.

Start by navigating to Academic Search Complete, a multidisciplinary database, through the Databases tab on the library homepage.

Find a database


Select Choose Databases above the search box in Academic Search Complete.

Choose databases


Check the databases appropriate for your topic. Hover over the icons to see descriptions of the databases. Once you've made your selections, click on OK.

Choose appropriate database


Now go to the Advanced Search screen.

Advanced search


Enter the Boolean search you created back on the Search Strategies page.

Boolean search


Browse through your results. Read more about an article by clicking on its title. Refine the results on the left to make them more relevant to your topic. Download the articles you want using the PDF icons, or search for the full text articles with the green FIND IT button.

Refine results


On the screen for a single article, read the Abstract for a summary of the article to evaluate if it's relevant to your topic. Notice the Subject Terms, which you can use as search terms in subsequent searches. 

Subject terms

Finally, evaluate your search - did it produce the results you wanted? If not, try using some subject terms close to your topic or relevant words from abstracts to do another search. If you're not getting the results you need after a few tries, contact your subject librarian or Ask Us for help. ​

Online Articles is a discovery tool that allows you to search 92% of the Libraries' electronic databases simultaneously. Searching in Online Articles is a good way to:

  • find interdisciplinary articles
  • find individual articles when you only have a partial citation

Start your Online Articles search on the Libraries homepage; select the Online Articles tab from the central search box. Enter your keywords in the search box. Note that the initial search is limited to full-text online and peer-reviewed articles.

Limit your articles


The search returns articles that contain all of the keywords. You will have a huge number of results, so go to the Advanced Search to customize your search.

Advanced search


On the Advanced Search screen, you can change over to a Boolean search and use limiters to get more relevant results. Note that you can change the fields where you're searching for your terms, e.g., Abstract, Subject Terms. For advanced researchers, do not limit to full text online so you'll pick up anything the library has in print also.

Using limiters

You can further refine your results with the options in the left-hand panel. Use the Preview function to read an article's abstract. Remember to look for the full text article with the green FIND IT button.

Refine your search


To focus in on individual databases, note in the Preview section which databases your relevant results are coming from. For example, this article is being pulled from the databases Web of Science, Scopus and Arts & Humanities Citation Index. Select the hyperlinks to go directly to the databases.

Individual database sources

If a keyword search isn't working for you, try a subject search in a databases like EBSCOhost and Online Articles. There are two ways to do subject searches. The first is called a "pearl growing" strategy and the second is using the thesaurus or subject index in a database.

For pearl growing, start off by finding an article that is close to your topic from your keyword search, and then look for the subject terms assigned to it. They tell you in general what the article is about. Subject terms usually appear on the results screen and the screen for an individual article. Here's an example of a results screen in EBSCOhost:

Subject search


Here's an example of the subjects on the screen for an individual article in EBSCOhost:

Subject terms


Copy the search terms that seem the most relevant, paste them into your search, and then search again. If you want to make your search even more focused, change the dropdown menu for the field from the default setting to Subject Terms.

From default setting to Subject Terms

Look at the subject terms that come up in the results set to find even more search terms related to your topic.


The second way to subject search is to use the thesaurus or subject index in a database. Let's use the example of Academic Search Complete again and look for articles about abolitionist newspapers or magazines. At the top of the screen in Academic Search Complete, select Subject Terms to open the subject term index.

Subject Terms


Next, type in a term for your topic to find out which search terms the database uses for that concept. In this example, we'll type in abolitionist, select a term, and add it to the search.

Search term


Now you can add other subject terms to add all the concepts you're looking for in an article. Here we've added "newspapers" to our search from the subject index.

Add or Subtract subject terms

Now search and browse your results. As you find relevant articles, note the subject terms assigned to them and try them in subsequent searches.


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