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:

12. Proximity searching

Proximity searching involves finding words within a specified distance of each other.

Some databases allow you to perform proximity searching. This is particularly important when searching large full-text databases. If one of your search terms appears on page 3 of an article, and the other search term appears on page 7, the article is probably not very relevant.

Proximity searches limit the number of words between your search terms. For example:

(television) within 5 (violence) retrieves references that contain television and violence in any order, but not more than five words apart.

The way that you perform a proximity search (the search syntax) will vary from database to database. Check the database’s Help section to find out if the database allows proximity searching and, if so, how you should construct your search statement.