What is a database?
A database is a periodical index which means it offers access to magazine and newspaper articles, book chapters and more, depending on which database you choose. Each database houses thousands of citations and full-text articles. Citations are used to help you find an article. Full-text articles offer the entire text of the document within the database. Databases also offer abstracts. Abstracts are brief summaries and can be used to assess whether or not a specific article is worth reading in its entirety.
Searching a database
There’s so much information available nowadays that searching can be difficult. Think about your project topic and start with a broad search phrase. If you’re doing a project on speed limits in Vermont, try “speed limit” and then narrow your search from there. Try a phrase search – use quotation marks around your search terms. If you’re trying to find information on the Civil War, you would want to enclose the phrase Civil War in quotation marks, like this: “Civil War”. This tells the database or search engine that you only want results that contain that exact phrase. (Yes, this works with Google, too.)
If you have trouble searching a database, stop by the library and the Librarian will help you.
Many databases will generate MLA citations for you! Look for the “Cite this” option on the screen. If you can’t find it, ask the Librarian for help. For more information on citations and MLA, visit the MLA page for useful links and a brief overview.
Database PasswordsVOL Databases