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College of the Atlantic - Thorndike Library

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Understand Your Sources

Understanding Databases

From ideas to library databases!

Produced by the libraries at North Carolina State University (2.28 minutes)

All About Databases

What are databases?

A database has data organized in such a way that it can be easily searched and retrieved by a computer.  Our library databases help you retrieve information about books, articles, documents, artistic works, and more.


Types of Databases

Not all research databases are the same.  It is important to know what information the database you are searching can provide.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Does the database provide information on a specialized topic or is it mutli-disciplinary?
  • What are the dates of coverage of the database?
  • Does the database provide full text articles, is it just an index (i.e. only gives you bibliographic information about journal articles), or does it give you full text to some articles and only bibliographic information for others?

In our A-Z Databases list we provide information about each database that helps answer these questions.  Once searching inside a database, there is often a link to the publications and associated dates from which articles have been drawn for inclusion in the database.