9.3 Basic Guidelines for Research in Academic Databases
Many of your professors will expect you to use academic research databases for research papers in college. Getting used to doing research in an academic database can be challenging, especially if you have only used Google for research. Becoming familiar with the way that research databases work can take some time. However, with some understanding of what academic research databases can do for you, and with some practice and tinkering around, you will soon be more comfortable doing your research in these databases instead of Google.
The guidelines offered in the videos below offer basic but important information about using research databases effectively. While the content on the rest of this page applies most specifically to EBSCO Complete (also called EBSCOhost), the tips are relevant to any research database. At CSN, all academic databases can be found via the CSN library’s webpage, under the “Browse Databases” tab.
How Can You Use an Academic Research Database Effectively?
- Avoid typing your whole research question into the search field. Use only keywords, in various combinations
- Use several keywords at once, and be willing to change each word for a synonym if you hit a dead end with one set of words
- Use “AND” or “OR” to retrieve more results or to limit your results
- Use the database’s own Subject Terms to help you to refine your searches within that database
The video below explains what doing all of those things means in a practical sense.
“Tracking Down Articles” by Research Therapists
What is EBSCO Complete?
ESBSCO Complete is one of the more user-friendly databases for conducting college research. It is a great “starter” database for several reasons. In Academic Search Complete, you can find popular articles from some of the more credible newspapers and magazines. You can also locate scholarly articles from a variety of academic disciplines. EBSCO Complete provides a wide array of information on a range of topics, and chances are that you will find something useful for your project there.
When you realize how many filters you can apply to your search query so that you only get certain types of information, you will see how valuable this database (or database researching in general) can be.
The video below offers a quick overview of how you can use Academic Search Complete to
- Limit your search results to only get peer reviewed (scholarly) articles
- Limit your search results to get articles that are accessible via download (“full text”)
- Refine your searches so that you get the information most relevant to your research project
- Refine your search to specific dates so that only articles from a certain time period are found
EBSCO, “EBSCO Advanced Searching – Tutorial”
Notes about Google Scholar
Many students report using and liking Google Scholar. If Google Scholar works for you – and it certainly can work well – then by all means continue to use it along with EBSCO Complete. What may happen, however, is that while you can find article titles via Google Scholar searches, you may not get access to the full article because you do not have a paid subscription to the journal in which the article is published. If you find yourself in that situation, do not give up!
Here are some tips to get better article access using Google Scholar:
- Under each entry is a “Cited by” link, followed by a number. Click the link for a list of articles that used information from the entry.
- Use the “Full-Text @ CSN Library” link to go to the full text of the article.
- Off campus, in Scholar Settings, set your computer to connect to CSN Library resources by typing “College of Southern Nevada” in the Library Links box and then selecting the appropriate link.
- EBSCO Complete, and the many other academic research databases that can be accessed from the CSN Library’s “Databases” page, will give you access to most articles. If you find a title via Google Scholar that you cannot access, try to find it in EBSCO Complete or another database.
- If you are still unable to access an article via another CSN database, use Interlibrary Loan to request the article or chapter.