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Searching: Database Searching

Use this guide to learn how to search effectively for information sources

UCA Dabases

At UCA we have databases that are both multidisciplinary and subject specific.  They include arts, business, religion/theology, life sciences, mathematics, ecology, botany, health and general science including medicine and specific geographical regions including Asia and Ireland.  See the full list here.

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.

At UCA we have databases that are both multidisciplinary and subject specific.  They include arts, business, religion/theology, life sciences, mathematics, ecology, botany, health and general science including medicine and specific geographical regions including Asia and Ireland.  See the full list here.

Why Use Databases?

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.

Differences between Library and Web Content

Library databases Web sites
Information comes from professionals or experts (authorities) in the field. Can be written by anyone regardless of expertise or authority.
Contain published works where facts are checked and evidence provided. Often these are peer-reviewed for therefore quality resources for suitable for academic use. Content is not necessarily checked by an expert and therefore is not peer-reviewed.
Information is easy to cite in a bibliography and many databases generate citations for you Often web sources do not provide the information necessary to create a complete citation.
Can help you narrow your topic or suggest related subjects. Are often not organized to support student research needs.
These sources are updated frequently and include the date of publication. May web resources do not  indicate when the resource was created or updated.
These sources have the option to combine search terms using advanced search functions and Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT. You usually get a single search box that may not provide accurate searching.
These resources are safe to use and highly recommended for academic work. These sources are risky, may be plagiarised and unlikely to be fact-checked.

AND, OR and NOT

The Boolean Operators AND, OR and NOT will allow you to combine your search terms and perform sophisticated searches that will bring up results that are most relevant to your research.

The option to refine by date, subject, language can be used to further fine-tune your search results. Some databases give you the option to 'Search Within'.  Most have a thesaurus that provides additional information on the best terms to use for searching.