Getting to Article Databases
How to get where you're going when you are interested in researching a specific topic area or searching a specific database.
The search box on the Libraries home page is a great tool to help you get started finding articles. It searches most of the databases that the library subscribes to, but not all of them. Just click on the articles tab and enter your key terms into the box… This can be a great starting point for many research projects, but for more in-depth research, you may want to use a subject-specific database.
Subject-specific databases are narrowly scoped to a particular field or discipline, meaning they allow researchers to find very specific types of documents or information. For example, there are business databases that have search filters to limit results by type of industry or even by geographic region. Or in an architecture database you can sort by document types like “aerial images” or “site plans.”
To get to these specialized databases, click the databases link beneath the main search box on the Libraries’ website. This will take you to a new page, allowing you to access individual databases. If you already know what database you’re looking for, you can search for it by name or browse the alphabetical listing. But most likely, you will want to look at the section with the heading “Browse by discipline.” In the left column, you’ll see major discipline categories covering a variety of subjects: like agriculture & life sciences, engineering, or social sciences. They are organized much like the academic colleges and departments at NC State.
Let’s say I want to find articles on environmental justice, which means the fair treatment of everyone, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, in regards to environmental safety and protection. In this list of disciplines, I see Agriculture & Life Sciences, which is relevant, but I also see other disciplines that could be useful for this topic, like natural resources or social sciences. For now I’ll go with Natural Resources. The link takes me to a list of subcategories to help narrow my search. Let’s click on Environmental Sciences. This will take me to a list of databases that librarians recommend for Environmental Sciences research.
At the top is a list of “Key Databases”, which are great starting points for most research in this subject. Each database has a description underneath its link to help you decide whether or not to use it. Underneath the “Key Databases” are listings of databases for more niche topics. For instance, Toxline would be a great database for research on chemical pollution. You can click on any of these to read more about the topics that they cover. Once I find a database that I like, I can click on it and begin searching, discovering information more closely related to my topic. The librarians who specialize in each discipline area are also listed at the bottom of these database pages in case you have questions.
There are too many different databases to describe them all in detail, but even though every database looks a little different, they often have similar features. Look for tools to filter by date or subject, options for emailing articles and citations to yourself, and links to Help pages. These tools usually appear at the top or sides of the database’s website.
If you need help finding information or deciding which database might be best for your research, ask a librarian for help!
- Anne BurkeAssociate Head, Learning Spaces & Services
- Alison EdwardsLibrarian for Digital Teaching & Learning
Video added on January 31, 2022
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