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How to Navigate the Library

This guide provides an introduction to library resources and how to find, evaluate, use, and cite them.

Library Databases

Databases are a "usually large collection of data organized especially for rapid search and retrieval (as by a computer)".

Basically, a database is an electronically organized catalog, index, and container for published information such as journal, newspaper, and magazine articles, as well as ebooks, streaming video and audio files.


A database is either general or subject/discipline specific and is searchable by keyword, subject, author, or title. 

A library database will provide scholarly and peer-reviewed sources that are appropriate to use for academic research and writing.
The box on the right is a list of some of the most popular general use databases that SC4 subscribes to. If you need help searching the databases, please ask a librarian!


If you'd like to learn more about using the library databases, check out our guide "How to Use the Library Databases."


"Database." Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

Database Searching

Most databases are searchable by keyword or subject. It's usually best to avoid typing full sentences into a database search engine; using keywords and Boolean operators will almost always return better results.

As this image from Academic Search Complete's advanced search shows, you may search using Boolean operators or by searching for any or all of your search terms.

You can also narrow down your results by publication date, by publication type, by full text, and by many other limiters.

Results can be refined by language, author, document type, or others. Some databases mix scholarly and non-scholarly sources, and will allow you to limit between the two.

Depending on the database you are using, articles may be displayed in different formats:

  • Citation: Includes only the article citation (i.e., author, title, date, etc.). Neither an abstract nor the full-text of the article are available.
  • Abstract: Includes the citation and a summary of the article's content. It does not include the full-text article.
  • Full-text: Includes the citation and full-text article. This may be in HTML, .pdf, or both formats.


academic search complete



General Databases

Your Librarian

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Jane Lewandoski
Phone (810) 989-5640
Text (810) 515-7343