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:

6. Phrase searching

Some databases will assume that a string of words should be searched for as a phrase. In other words, it will only retrieve references in which the words occur side by side or in very close proximity. This works well if you have typed information technology, but it will be a problem if you have typed depression teenagers (it would be better to search depression AND teenagers if this is the case).

When searching a database that does not automatically search the terms as a phrase, it is useful to force the database to search them as a phrase to ensure you get relevant results. You can do this by enclosing the terms in double quotation marks, e.g. “information technology”.

In some databases, there will be a separate search box for phrase searching.

You can find out about searching for phrases from the database’s Help pages.