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How to Use the Library Databases

This library research guide provides an introduction to using the library databases.

How to Choose a Database

On the A-Z Databases page, the databases are listed in alphabetical order. Since SC4 Library subscribes to over 200 databases, it is usually easiest to select a useful database by searching the databases that fall within a general subject area.

1. To do this, use the dropdown "Subjects" menu to aid in your selection.

  • For example, if you are searching for sources for your Criminal Justice class, it is helpful to choose from the databases within the Criminal Justice subject area, as they will have the most relevant resources.

2. Choose "Criminal Justice" from the "Subjects" dropdown, as shown below. There are 16 different recommended databases that contain Criminal Justice - related resources.

  • Most subjects will also have a "Best Bets" section, which generally suggests the "best" or most popular option(s) for the chosen subject, but depending on what you are searching for, it may be beneficial to consider the other databases within that subject area as well.


criminal justice databases


3. Underneath the database title (or if you hover over the title as shown below) is a short description of the types of resources and subject areas the database contains.

database description location

How to Know What a Database Contains

There are a few other ways to figure out if a particular database will be useful in your research.

1.  As discussed above, one of the best ways to select a relevant database is to make sure that it covers the subject area you need.

  • For example, you're unlikely to find applicable sources for a Criminal Justice topic if you're searching the Art Abstracts database.

2. It is also helpful to know what date range a database covers.

  • As with the subject areas, this information is usually in the database description. However, if it's not, as in the Criminal Justice database example above, click on the database link to view the date and subject coverage as shown below.

database coverage


3. You may also want to know what types of materials (journal articles, e-books, images, etc.) are available in a certain database.

  • This information is often in the database description, but when searching for a database to use, you may also browse by "Database Types" as shown below.
  • For example, if you know you need to find a journal article, you could select "e-journals", "full text" (which means you are able to access the full article rather than just an abstract or a citation), or even "open access".

database types