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4) Find Journal Articles: Database Basics

A University of Lethbridge Library guide to finding journal articles.

What is a database?

The Library uses the term ‘database’ to describe a searchable online resource. A database can contain any type of information; most Library databases contain scholarly journal articles and other research materials. Usually, the Library pays to access these; the information in them is available only to registered University of Lethbridge users, and often this content is not available for free online through regular search engines such as Google Scholar. Using the databases provided by the Library will help you find reliable information from trusted sources.

A database may be dedicated to a single subject or cover several subjects. Some publishers also provide databases which allow you to search all their published content from one website. You can find a variety of information in a database, depending on the one you choose, including:

  • Full text articles from e-journals and other publications
  • Abstracts (summaries of the article)
  • Citation information (references to find the item elsewhere)
  • Newspaper articles
  • e-books
  • Images
  • Conference proceedings & presentations
  • Numerical or statistical information

... and more.

Which database should I use?

The library subscribes to hundreds of databases.

If you're looking for articles on a particular topic and you're not sure where to start, begin by selecting the relevant subject area from the library's list of databases by subject. This will take you to a list of recommended databases in your subject area. 

To see a summary of a database's contents, click the [More] link in the right-hand column.

Because databases vary in their scope and coverage, it can be useful to explore several different databases in your subject area, as well as general and multidisciplinary databases.

Why do I have to use databases in my research?

"Can't I find all of these things on the Web?"

The short answer is that not everything is available online, and not everything is available for free. Databases contain material that is not available on the Web. Just like the books on our shelves, the library pays for access to subscription databases.

Library Help

Information and Research Assistance Desk (IRAD)

During IRAD open hours, you can Ask Us a question via IM, email, or text message.

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Phone: 403.329.2263
Ph. (toll free): 877.382.7113
Text: 780.666.4622

Get help In Person by visiting the IRAD, Located on Level 10 in the Library.

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Lethbridge, AB
T1K 3M4

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Database Searching