Using Databases

A “best practices” guide for more effective database searching


The guide is arranged into the following sections:

What are electronic databases?
Which database should I use?
Search techniques
Using search results

What are electronic databases?

Databases provide digital access to publications which can include but are not limited to the following:

  • Books
  • Journal articles
  • Book reviews
  • Popular magazines

Databases offer access to these publications in various forms including:

  • Citations
  • Abstracts
  • Full text

Which database should I use?

The library subscribes to various databases. For example, some deal with music while others may offer more generalized topics. The current list of databases can be found HERE. Most databases have an explanatory description on their respective landing pages.

Planning the search

Limit your search results by implementing one or more of the following:

  • By publication title
  • By citation, abstract or full text
  • Whether it is peer-reviewed
  • By date
  • By subject area

Searching techniques

Several of the library subscribed databases allow for “ advanced “ searching. Advanced searches make use of operators such as AND, OR and NOT. These operators can help add or exclude words from the search results. Searches may be further defined by utilizing the following:

  • Keywords
  • Entire document
  • Document title
  • Publication title
  • Subject
  • Abstract
  • Author

What operators and search limiters you can use will depend on the database.