A database in this context is a collection of resources. These resources were typically published by separate entities, but brought together on this platform that lays advanced search tools over the top and then makes this content available to subscribers (it's a lot like Netflix, Hulu, etc. - these tools bring together content from separate creators then makes it available and searchable to subscribers). Databases vary in scope - some are very narrow and some are very broad.
It may seem like an extra step - why use a database when I can google? - but databases offer quite a few advantages once you get the hang of them.
Use the search bar on the library home page to navigate to or search for a database. Click on the green Databases A-Z tab. Please note: this is just a list of database titles and descriptions. Do not search your topic here! Once you select a database, you can search within it for your topic.
To browse the databases, click on Additional Search Options below the search bar. On the next screen, you will be able to sort the databases by subject area.
On the Databases A-Z page, use the Subjects drop-down menu to explore the databases our library has access to. Once you've found one that looks relevant, click on it's title to jump to the database. If you're off campus, you many be asked to log in with your ISO username & password at this stage.
Databases work significantly better when searching by keyword. Unlike Google and similar tools, they don't do much analysis behind the scenes on your search. This means that when you search words like if, does, the, all of these are treated as relevant to the search. Some also don't look for variations on words. Most do not use your previous search and browsing history to impact your results (this is great for privacy!)
In some ways, this can make database searching feel imprecise and clunky compared to tools you're used to. But once you get the hang of it, these differences can be incredibly powerful. In short, these tools will search EXACTLY what you ask them too - they trust you as the researcher to know what you need.
The trick to any search is finding a balance between comprehension (Did I find enough sources?) and precision (Are these sources on topic?). Some topics require you to lean more to one of these directions - it takes some experimenting to figure out what you need for any given topic.
There are many commands that can make searches more precise. Some simple ones include:
These tricks can all be connected to create complex searches. Use parentheses to tell the database what order to process the commands (like in math and programming!) For example:
(emissions AND (car* OR vehicle*)) NOT "all terrain"
This search will find articles about car and vehicle emissions but will remove articles that discuss all terrain vehicles.