Searching Databases

A database is a searchable, organized collection of information. Library databases are great tools for finding articles on specific topics because:
  • You can access and search them on the Internet, from the library’s website.
  • They cover a wide range of topics.
  • They are structured for finding information more precisely than online search engines.
  • They offer citations to articles on topics related to your research needs.
  • They index articles published in magazines, scholarly journals, newspapers, etc.
  • They often contain links to the full text of the articles.

While databases have different designs, most offer similar capabilities, and the skills you use to search one may be applied to others. When choosing a database, consider the following:

  • Subject: Many databases specialize in a particular subject while others are more general and cover a wider range of topics.
  • Types of publications covered:  Some databases cover only periodical articles, while others may index books, government documents, conference proceedings, essays, etc.  
  • Coverage dates: Some databases do not cover years before the 1970s; some index only more recent publications. Read the database descriptions to determine the years of coverage.

Note: Always log in to the library’s website before searching for information.

Begin by selecting the database you want to search. An excellent multidisciplinary database is Academic Search Premier. To access Academic Search Premier:    

  • From the libraries' website, click on the "Databases" tab. Type "Academic Premier" into the search box.
  • Select "Academic Search Premier."

From the "Basic Search" screen you will be able to perform keyword searching and limit your searches in several ways. Click on the "Advanced Search" tab to perform more precise searches. Scroll down to see several options for limiting your search. By clicking on the "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals" box, you can limit searches to only articles from scholarly publications.

While you can limit searches to only those citations with full text available online, it is usually not necessary or a good idea to do this. Even if Academic Search Premier does not have a link to the full text of an article you can click on the OU Link to Article icon, which will connect you to the full text of the article if it is available in another database.

Click on the title of an article to view its full record, which will usually include a list of subject terms and an abstract (summary) of the article.

Academic Search Premier also provides options for e-mailing, printing, or saving articles and citations. To do this, you will need to add records to a folder. 

  • Click the "Add" icon to the right of the citation to add an item to your folder.
  • Click on the "Folder has items" link to view your saved citations. You can view, print, email, or save the records and/or the full text of the articles.


  • Use library databases to search for articles.
  • Choose a database that fits your information need in terms of subject coverage, dates of coverage, and types of publications indexed.
  • Use features within the database to limit and refine your searches.












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Last updated: 12/7/2010 4:04:50 PM
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