Databases

What is a Database?

A database is a collection of electronic materials, which may include journal articles, e-books and other materials. It is a searchable collection allowing library visitors to search for a particular topic in a journal or book in a variety of ways (e.g., keyword, subject, author, title). Some databases contain full-text articles from journals, magazines, and newspapers and books. Subject coverage of databases varies widely.


Why use a database?

Reliable – Content in databases has undergone a peer review process and is more reliable than information found through a simple Internet search. Additionally, databases provide relevant reference information (such as author name, publication details, institutional affiliation and abstract) to allow readers to evaluate the source and credibility of the material.

Relevant - Databases allow for customised searches to obtain the most relevant results. Searching can take the form of using keywords, discipline-specific terminology, subject headings and descriptors. Library visitors may also search by name of author, title and limit search results using various filtering criteria (date, source type, etc.).

Accessible - Databases often provide access to the full-text of an article digitally so library visitors do not need to go to the library to retrieve it in person. Libraries purchase institutional access to databases, which offers users the broadest possible access without a cost to library visitors.


Choosing the Right Database

Not all databases can be searched at the same time. To access a database, check with the librarian or go to the library website and select database(s) from A-Z of the subject list that matches your inquiry.


Searching a Database

Follow these easy steps:

  1. Determine the question that needs to be answered.
  2. Formulate a search term by entering keywords, subject, name of authors, etc. Do not enter words in a long string like in Google; words and phrases must be separated.
  3. Review the results and fine-tune the same by date, format of publication, etc.
  4. Put phrases into quotation marks, so the terms are searched together within the document. One may truncate words by adding a symbol at the end of a word stem in a keyword search to retrieve variants containing the root. This is particularly useful in retrieving both the singular and plural forms of a word in the same search.

How is a library database different from a website?

Library databases
Web sites

Information comes from professionals or experts in the field.
Can be written by anyone regardless of expertise.

Contain published works where facts are checked.
Content is not necessarily checked by an expert.

Are easy to cite in a bibliography and may create the citation for you.
Often do not provide the information necessary to create a complete citation.

Can help you narrow your topic or suggest related subjects.
Are often not organised to support student research needs.

Are updated frequently and include the date of publication.
May not indicate when a page is updated.

Searching Tips

Search ALL will retrieve print book, e-book, print journal, e-journal and most databases resources in UCA Libraries.

Library visitors may limit a search to print books, e-books, print journals, e-journals or databases only.

Search UCA Libraries will retrieve resources housed in or subscribed to by the UCA library.

Search UCA + Worldwide Libraries will retrieve resources from UCA plus in OCLC's WorldCat, which is a union catalog that itemizes the collections of 72,000 libraries in 170 countries that participate in the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) global cooperative.

Search by author name will search the author field of an item's catalog record. This search brings back the actual item records for the search results (unlike Author Alphabetical, which brings back a list of author names). For example, if you search for "Jones" you'll bring back results with all items that have "Jones" as author name.

Search by subject will search the Library of Congress Subject Headings of each record. This search brings back a list of items that have subject headings containing your search terms. Use this search even if you don't know the exact Library of Congress Subject Heading, because you'll get results that have your search terms in their Subject Headings. Then you can use the Subject Headings' links from those results to link to related items.