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UWC Online: ENG 101: Using Databases

Unit 3: Lesson 7

This page corresponds with Unit 3: Lesson 7 in Online Eng 101.

Using Databases

Using Databases

Many college courses require that students use research information from academic sources instead of regular print media or free internet content. A database is an electronic collection of information on academic topics. A regular search engine (such as google and yahoo) does not screen information based the credibility or usefulness of the source. In contrast, most articles and other texts in databases come from sources that experts have carefully evaluated. For this class, you will learn to use the UW Colleges library databases through UW Colleges library databasesGoogle scholar is an example of another research tool that students can use to access academic sources; it’s an internet search engine for scholarly online texts.

Google Scholar, however, may only link you to pay for use texts.  Never pay for research!  Your UW- Colleges librarian will do all they can in order to gain access to the text at no cost to you.  Always ask your librarian before you pay for research.

An electronic database permits users to search for information from hundreds or even thousands of journals and sources. Most electronic databases available online require that users pay a subscription fee. The UW Colleges has subscribed to multiple databases. Students can access them for free by using their user name and password (the key words for accessing e-mail and D2L).

Advantages of Using Databases

     Databases      Internet Search Engine
Library subscription services such as EbscoHost and LexisNexis Free Internet search sites such as Google and Yahoo
Locates information specifically for college students, scholars, and  professional writers Usually finds information for a general audience
Accesses sources originally printed in journals and books  (sometimes contains scholarly articles written for web journals) Accesses sources primarily written for the Internet (though sometimes includes articles from newspapers and other print sources)
Searches for information from academic journal articles,  professional publications, and newspapers Retrieves information from a wide variety of sources—many of them not appropriate for college research
Finds sources that would be appropriate for college papers Often finds inappropriate or irrelevant sources
Screened for quality and credibility Not screened for quality or credibility (it’s often difficult to know whether a source is reliable)
Contains information from experts May contain information from unreliable sources(anyone can put information on the web)
Contains information that is less likely to be biased or commercial Often contains advertisements or other information written for commercial purposes
Indicates the original source for information

Often doesn’t show readers where the information came from

Steps for Using Databases

Steps for Using Library Databases

This is an overview of how to do a very basic search for online articles using library databases. You will learn about additional research process strategies in English 102. 

Step 1)          

Identify a topic or issue to research that is appropriate for the assignment instructions. Narrow a general topic or issue to a specific issue or research question.

Step 2)          

Identify search terms (key words and phrases) that you can use to find articles and other texts about your chosen issue. 

Step 3)          

Go to the Databases by Subject page.  Here you can select a subject and find databases geared toward that subject.  For a great starting point select General and use the database called Academic Search Complete You may be asked to enter a username and password. Use the same username and password that you use to access D2L, e-mail, and PRISM. 

Step 4)          

Type a search term or phrase into the search box.

Step 5)          

Look at the search results to identify articles that are appropriate for your assignment. For English 101, you will need to find a full text article (not just an article summary). If necessary, you may need to revise your search and use additional terms to find an appropriate article.

 Step 6)          

From the list of available texts, identify at least one article that will help you research your essay issue.  Click on the article. Then read the abstract or summary to make sure that the article is appropriate for the assignment.  If not, go back to the search results and continue looking for other articles.

Step 7)          

Download a copy of the article.

Step 8)          

Click on the citation (or cite) link if one is available for the article. Select MLA documentation style. Save a copy of the MLA citation for the article to use in your essay or portfolio works cited list. 

Using Academic Search Complete