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2.4.2 Databases

Identify and obtain  information
2.1 Define your search terms
2.2 An example search strategy
2.3 Search strategies
2.4 Select an appropriate tool
  2.4.1 Library catalogues
  2.4.2 Databases
    Choose the right database
  Tips for searching databases
  2.4.3 Internet
2.5 Keep up to date
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A database is a searchable collection of records referring to published information. To be precise, Library One Search, subject specific databases, library catalogues and the Internet are all databases, but the library uses the term to refer to specific database products. Some databases are free of charge and others are subscribed to, on your behalf, by ECU Library.

The content of databases varies.

Databases may contain or refer to: Examples:
Statistics Australian Bureau of Statistics
Audio files Naxos Music Library
Annual reports Aspect Annual Reports Online
Company information Mergent Online
Case law LexisNexis
Standards Standards Australia Online
Journal articles and books (psychology) PsycINFO
A single search of the ECU Library collection of journal articles, books, DVDs, newspaper articles, etc. Library One Search

The databases we will focus on are those used to identify individual journal articles.

Databases which contain and refer to journal articles

At the very least a database will provide basic bibliographic information including:

  • the author (of article)
  • the title (of article)
  • the title of journal (source)
  • the volume, issue and/or publication year
  • the page numbering.

This is enough information for you to locate a copy of the journal article.

ECU databases also have a Findit@ECU link to check and link to full text.

In addition to these bibliographic details, some databases will provide:

  • subject headings
  • an abstract or summary
  • fulltext.

Fulltext means that you will be able to view the entire article in that database. Fulltext access can come in various formats.

The two main formats are HTML and PDF.

Format Advantages Disadvantages
  • loads quickly
  • graphics, tables and photos contained in the article do not display well
  • no page numbering (makes it difficult when you need to cite the document as you will need to use paragraph numbers)
  • includes the official page numbering (this is useful when you need to cite the document)
  • graphics, tables and photos appear exactly as they do in the original printed publication
  • print friendly format
  • can be slow to load, depending on the length of the document
  • can be difficult to read on screen


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