Databases are online collections of resources that you can search to find information. They may cover a particular subject area or cover a range of subjects.

Most databases:

  • have a peer reviewed or scholarly material filter to ensure you get reliable, authoritative information
  • offer advanced search features that allow you to focus your search.

You can search databases to find journal articles, but they may also contain other publication types such as books, theses, newspapers, videos and images. 

Databases usually have a "Help" section with a detailed explanation of how to perform searches.

Focus your search in databases using these search tips:

2. Choose your search terms carefully

Think carefully about the terms that you type into the search box. These are common mistakes:

  • Too many search terms — too many words may retrieve no references, or very few references. The database is trying to find references that contain all those words 
  • Too few search terms — too few words may retrieve too many references 
  • Inappropriate search terms — terms that are not commonly used to describe the subject may retrieve irrelevant references
  • Incorrect spelling or not including spelling variations

Plan your search has tips on choosing terms.