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.
Here are some reasons why using database is better than Google or Google Scholar:
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.
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.
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.
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].
If you want a literature review, add "AND review" to your keywords. To find a research study, add "AND study" to your keywords.
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 Complete, MLA 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.
Select Choose Databases above the search box in Academic Search Complete.
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.
Now go to the Advanced Search screen.
Enter the Boolean search you created back on the Search Strategies page.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Here's an example of the subjects on the screen for an individual article in EBSCOhost:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now search and browse your results. As you find relevant articles, note the subject terms assigned to them and try them in subsequent searches.