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:

9. Subject descriptors and the thesaurus

Subject terms, sometimes called descriptors or keywords, are standard terms used to describe the content of publications. Using the subject terms can make searching easier and more reliable.

Some databases list all these terms in a thesaurus. The thesaurus may have an elaborate structure of broader, narrower and related terms, which will help you to search very precisely.

The thesaurus may allow you to explode a term. This means that you are searching on your selected term and also on all narrower terms which have been linked to that term in the thesaurus.

Check the database's Help section to see if it has a thesaurus or uses subject descriptors.