Library databases are cumulative indexes of journal articles covering a particular subject area, academic discipline, or group of related disciplines.
Although searching can be done using resources such as SuperSearch and Google Scholar, subject databases contain sophisticated search interfaces that allow you to perform highly refined and specialised searches, which return more specific search results.
Databases and e-journal collections are useful in connecting you to the latest research in your field and are your best means of accessing reliable, authoritative literature on a given topic.
What’s in a database and e-journal collection?
The information contained in each database and e-journal collection will vary, however all databases and e-journal collections will provide basic bibliographic information including author, title, journal title, date and pages. Many will also provide an abstract (summary).
Some databases and e-journal collections will contain full text articles. If a full text article is not available, you can locate the full text article using WebBridge, ArticleReach or Trove.
When should you use databases and e-journal collections?
- When you need to find published sources, especially journal articles, on a particular topic.
- When you commence the ‘scoping exercise’ for your research project and you need to determine the current state of research in your subject area.
- When you start work on your assignment or literature review.
How to search databases and e-journal collections
Go to the e-resources and databases a-z listing on the Library website.
Enter the name of a database or e-resource collection in the Search by title search box or select a subject from the subject drop down list. Select Go.
Note: if you are off-campus you may be prompted to login using your ANU ID and password.
- Enter your search term/s and select the relevant search option (for example keyword, full text or the abstract) if available. If the relevant search option is not available, there is generally an Advanced Search option that provides a more precise search. Select Go.
- Check how your results have been sorted (for example relevance, publication date (most recent first), times cited). These options will vary in each different database and e-resource.
- Look at the number of results. If there are a lot of results you might need to refine your search using more specific keywords or the refining options provided by the database or e-resource. If there are not enough results broaden your search keywords.
Note: if you need help to refine or broaden your search terms visit the Topic analysis how to guide.
- To check if an article is relevant, read through the abstract. The abstract should summarise the article and help you determine if you should download and read the full text article.
- Click on the title or look for the option to download the full text article (this could be a PDF icon or link).
Note: If the article does not have a full text option use WebBridge.
Once you have found the full text article, it is important to save or export the citation. This organises you research and provides an accurate record for your referencing or bibliography.
If you would like help or training in using databases and e-journal collections visit the research skills webpage on the ANU Library website.