Discover Databases: A Tutorial

Today you will be working independently to learn about databases. You will need earbuds or a headset for this class.

Let's get started...

What are databases?
Simply put, databases are searchable collections of information. When we use the term "library database," we are talking about a system used specifically to access digital resources, such as e-reference books, encyclopedia articles, images, and especially academic journals and other periodicals.

Some database facts are:
  • Databases are usually comprised of digitized print materials. This means that the information originally appeared in a book, a newspaper, or academic journal
  • The information in databases is usually NOT available on the free web (which means you can't use Google to find it)
  • Databases cost money. The Shepaug School Library subscribes to several databases that support our middle school and high school curriculums. Also, the Connecticut Digital Library provides more than 30 databases for use by Connecticut citizens through a service called ResearchIT CT. Some examples of databases are: CultureGrams, Science Reference Center, and Explora.
Why use databases?
Click on the image below to read about the reasons students should use databases when conducting academic research.

What databases are available to you?
The SVS Library subscribes to more than 30 databases. To access our databases, click on the "Research Databases" icon at the top of the SVS Library home page.

Databases are listed by content area. When doing research, it is important that you choose the most appropriate database for your information need. Sometimes, it makes sense to look at general periodicals; other times you need to use a specific content-area database, such as Bloom's Literature for an English assignment or Science Reference Center for the latest science news.

What are periodicals?
A periodical is something that comes out... PERIODICALLY.
Periodicals are items that are produced and published every day or week or month or quarter or year and so on. There are three major categories of periodicals: scholarly journals, popular magazines/newspapers, and trade magazines. When conducting research, it is important that you distinguish between these categories. This chart from North Carolina State University explains the differences.

YouTube Video

How can I use databases to locate the information I need?
The SVS Library subscribes to more than 50 print periodicals, including popular magazines, newspapers, and even some trade journals, but compared to a database, our physical library holds very little. HUNDREDS of journals with THOUSANDS of articles are accessible through our online databases. In order to find the specific information you need in this sea of information provided by databases, you will need to refine your search by a variety of criteria: date, related subjects, document type, etc. 

Watch the following video for more information on how to effectively use databases.

YouTube Video

How do I cite a database article?
A citation provides your reader with the information that is necessary to locate that source independently. A citation includes the author's name, the title of the work, the name and location of the publisher, the publication date, the page numbers of the material you are using, the type of media being used, and the date you accessed the information (if found online).

There are many citation styles (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.). At Shepaug, we use the MLA style for all courses.

Note: A web address (URL) is NOT a citation. 

One of the advantages of using databases for research is that  citations are provided for all articles. Always look for a Cite or Citation button or tab somewhere on the page. When researching your own topic, be sure to choose the MLA citation, then copy and paste it into NoodleTools. 

Congratulations! You have completed today's database tutorial. Now, you are ready to start using databases to find information on your topic. Please be sure to ask your librarian for assistance in effectively using databases and for tips and tricks for successful searching.