A library database is an online collection of organized and searchable resources, such as journals, newspapers, and videos. You can search databases to find the most reliable, academic information for assignments. This information cannot be found through the Internet (i.e. Google) because a subscription is needed to access it. Learn more about databases here.
To access the digital (online) resources from off-campus, a login is required. The login for students is set to the following:
Search the library databases
Or access the LLC's databases collection through:
A library database is a collection of highly organized, electronic information, such as journals, newspapers, and videos.
The library's catalogue and databases are structured so you can access all the items stored inside. Like a filing cabinet, fields are used to describe and organize library resources into “files” called records.
When a search term is entered, the computer finds records that contain the search term in one or more of the fields.
All databases share this structure but vary in appearance, the types and formats of the content stored inside, and the terminology used to organize that content.
This is similar to vehicles; all vehicles have the same function, but vary by manufacturer, brand, and model. In general, there are two types:
Watch this short tutorial to learn more about library databases:
For example, this article costs $20 to download on the open web, but the same article can be found in full-text using the LibSearch or library databases:
Read below to understand the difference between searching in the library and searching the internet:
BOTTOM LINE:Provides free subscription-based content that is scholarly and suitable for college assignments
BOTTOM LINE:Lacks the reliability and authority needed for college assignments
Library databases contain information in multiple formats - images, streaming videos, book chapters, and so on.
1) Popular - Examples: People; Cosmopolitan; National Geographic; Vogue; Sports Illustrated
2) News-Based - Examples: Calgary Herald; The Global and Mail; Time; MacLean's
3) Trade or Professional - Examples: Advertising Age; Harvard Business Review; Nutrition Health Review
4) Academic (Scholarly & Peer-Reviewed) - Examples: Nursing Philosophy; Journal of Business Communication
Periodicals typically contain several types of articles with varying purposes and characteristics.
This means that academic journals do NOT publish ONLY scholarly, peer-reviewed articles. Other types of articles, such as editorials, commentaries, opinion pieces and interviews, are also published in academic journals.
Click below to learn about the characteristics of these common types of articles found in the library's databases:
Peer review is a publication process based on peer evaluation that ensures contributions made to the scholarly community are based on accurate, reliable, and original research findings and analysis.
To determine if a journal article is peer-reviewed, open the article and look for the key characteristics described below.
For more help, use the How to Find Peer-Reviewed Articles guide here.
University of California at Berkeley. (n.d.). Scrutinizing science: Peer review [digital image]. Understanding Science. Retrieved from http://undsci.berkeley.edu/
5 Key Characteristics:
1) Author(s) with credentials (e.g. MA, MD or Ph.D) and/or affiliations (e.g. university professor)
2) A specific focus on contributing new, original research in a narrow area of the subject (often indicated through a long title)
3) Technical and formal language with complex ideas and arguments, an objective tone, and an analytical perspective
4) Lengthy (at least 5 pages of text) with many references, footnotes and/or endnotes
5) Plain appearance with very minimal use of colour, graphics and/or images
Additional "Clues" (typical but not necessary):
A “keyword” is simply a concrete word or phrase that describes the main concepts in a research question or topic. If you have used an internet search engine, you are probably familiar with keyword searching.
A keyword search:
NEVER type more than one or two words into a search box. Use Advanced Search for more search boxes to add keywords:
To expand search results, drop the ending of keywords and place an asterisk (*) next to the root of term to find all variations such as the plural and adjectival forms:
Need help? Use the RGO Library's online webchat service to ask for assistance from a friendly library assistant! Or contact us by phone or email:
Chat with library staff for help.
Generating Search Terms Tutorial
This video tutorial will show you how to find and generate effective keywords for internet or database searching:
Boolean operators allow you to connect search terms together to get more focused results. The most common are AND, OR and NOT:
The operator AND is used to narrow search results.
It retrieves results that contain all the terms it separates and excludes the records that contain just one of the terms.
Example 1: youth AND drugs
In this example, your search will only retrieve records that have both the term 'youth' and the term 'drugs.'
Example 2 : child AND development AND play
In this example, your search will only retrieve records that have all terms -- 'child', 'development' and 'play.'
The operator OR is used to expand search results.
Using OR between two or more search terms will retrieve results that contain either or all search terms. OR is usually used to search for synonyms or related words.
Example 1: native OR aboriginal
In this example, your search will retrieve results that have either or both of the terms 'native' and 'aboriginal.'
Example 2: job OR career OR profession
In this example, your search will retrieve results that have either, any, or all of the terms 'job', 'profession' and 'career.'
The operator NOT is used to narrow search results by excluding one or more words.
It retrieves the records that contain the first term but eliminates any records that contain the term which is entered after NOT. It should be used with caution as it may eliminate relevant records.
Example 1: depression NOT economic
In this example, your search will retrieve results that have only the term 'depression' and any record which contains the term 'economic' will be left out of your results.
Example 2: crime AND London NOT Ontario
In this example, your search will retrieve results that have only the terms 'London' and 'crime' and any result which contains the term 'Ontario' will be not be included in your records.
A field is used to “file” a library resource in the catalogue or database. Fields appear on the catalogue or database record and vary according to the format of the library resource.
This is an example of a catalogue record for an academic journal article. There are fields for the article title, name of the journal (source), author(s), database, and so on. These fields are used to describe and index the library resource:
To narrow search results by field, choose from the drop-down menu next to the search box:
A field search:
When you use LibSearch or library databases, you will often get too many results.
In LibSearch and most databases, the left-hand or right-hand column of the search results page has many limiters to narrow and improve the accuracy and relevancy of results.
To begin, click on the arrow to open the list of options for that category. Choose an option or click show more for additional options.
The categories of filters and limiters include:
In library databases, subject headings are a type of standardized “tag” used to index and organize resources on the same topic, regardless of the words used in the actual text.
Subject headings are useful because they collate under one umbrella term all the synonyms, singular or plural forms, and spelling variants of a given term. They provide a controlled vocabulary that relieves the searcher from having to search for every variation of the term in order to find all relevant resources.
Also referred to as subject terms or descriptors, subject headings vary depending on the database. A list of subject headings is typically provided within the thesaurus or index, which can be used to begin a subject search.
For example, the Business Source Complete database has a link to its Thesaurus that provides the option to search or browse by keyword:
After searching by keyword, such as accounting, a list of subject headings pertaining to that subject is retrieved:
Another method of subject searching is by opening the catalogue or database record.
Often, the subject headings are hyperlinked. Clicking on one will retrieve all resources that have been indexed under that subject heading:
A subject search:
Follow these tips to improve the quality of hits in LibSearch and the library's databases: