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What about databases?

You will often need to use databases to find information as Search Everything (on the library homepage) does not have every article ever published or won't have the type of information you need eg drug prices in New Zealand.

There are different types of database. Some are used to search for journal articles on a topic - both original or primary research and review or overview articles.

Compared with Search Everything most databases are subject specific allowing for more focused searching with more options to refine your search. Many of these databases have a record for every article published in each of the hundreds (or thousands) of journals indexed by that database.

Get familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of a database, know what is 'missing' from that database and which other databases might have that feature eg more choices of limits, sort results in date order etc, and finally, learn how to search the database effectively.

What about these special databases? How can they help me?

And think about...

What is a database?

I got my first uni assignment and my lecturer told me to look in the library databases for journal articles. But when I got to the university library a librarian explained it to me.

First you have to get your head around academic journals. Academic journals are collections of articles written by experts in an academic discipline. They’ve usually been reviewed by other academics in the field who have said that the research is original, and important, and at a high standard. This means, that if you use them, you’ll get better marks than if you use Wikipedia or a random website you found on Google.

In the past journals were always printed. Articles were written and collected in journals which were published at regular intervals. Libraries collected these and filled lots of shelves with them. Then the Internet came along and changed the way journals were produced. Now they’re more often found online as e-journals. Online e-journals are organised in library databases.

A library database is like a bucket. Each holds a collection of e-journals. Some databases hold heaps of e-journals in them, while others don’t have that many. The university library subscribes to databases that focus on relevant subjects for university students and researchers.

No single database will hold all the information you need. So, you need to find out which ones are best for what you are researching. The library has subject guides that show you which databases are best for your area. Its so much easier to find information when you know where to look, and why.

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