Database Dilemma

Ever notice the number of databases Alliant Library has access to? We have a lot. More than 60, in fact. Each contains an inviting array of information just waiting for eager exploration. Some databases are eclectic, moving across a host of disciplines, while others draw on a specific area of study, such as business, psychology, education and law (but even those have applications beyond their fields). Many people have their favorites and return to them over and over again. Sometimes a single database takes preference above all others, until it comes to a point where other information sources are simply ignored or forgotten about. There are limits to the amount of information contained in one database though. So problems arise when expectations are focused on a single source as a one-stop-shop for research gathering.

Here’s a helpful analogy: I like to think of databases as if they’re rooms in a house. Sometimes one room has exactly what you need in it. But not always. And keep in mind that rooms have walls. There can be a lot of useful stuff inside those walls, but it’s rare that one room contains everything you need, so you’re walled off from getting to some things. Say you’re in a room looking for a box of cereal. You open the sock drawer, peek under the bed, dig through the closest. No luck! It’s exasperating, frustrating and confounding, because in the past you’ve triumphed while searching inside the bedroom. It might not even occur to you that where you’re looking is a wholly inadequate place to find that elusive box of cereal. Well, it’s time to start thinking of other options. Now would be a good time to open the door and go into another room, perhaps the kitchen.

Just in case you find yourself walled off and looking for information in all the wrong places, here are some search options and strategies:

1. For general information/research gathering–

Search across several databases. For EBSCO databases, you have the option of searching across more than 30, so rather than just going directly to one (say PsycINFO), go to the “Databases” page and scroll through the list to “E” and click EBSCOhost Research Databases. This takes you to a page with a list of EBSCO databases with little boxes next each that you can click and check. After choosing what databases you want to use, scroll down and click “Continue.” You’re on your way.

ProQuest also offers the option of searching across several databases at once.  From the database list (on the “Databases” page), scroll to “P” and click ProQuest Databases. This takes you to the ProQuest search page. No need to choose databases, it automatically defaults to searching across several (look in the upper left corner and you’ll see how many. There’s even an arrow to click to see which ones are offered).

2. For a known citation, follow these steps:

A. If the citation has a DOI (Digital Object Identifier), perform a quick search using the DOI Finder. It’s located on the “Databases” page, right side, about halfway down. Click Find article by DOI , then copy and paste the DOI into the search box. Click “Submit.”

B. If there isn’t a DOI, copy and paste the JOURNAL title into the catalog search box on the library’s homepage (Encore is the default, but “Classic Catalog” works just as well). Click the “Search” button on the right side of the box. If we have electronic access, then the title will appear, with one or more databases listed below it to choose from. Click and go.

C. Still can’t find it? There are other options, but at this point, you might want to call in a professional and contact a librarian for some further guidance:

Finally some helpful hints regarding those pesky databases that can’t be searched through EBSCO or ProQuest:

  1. Science Direct (Elsevier) has a huge variety of electronic books and journals that include business, psychology and education. So don’t let the name deter you from looking if you’re not into biology, chemistry or physics.
  2. Statista has an abundance of statistics and data sets.
  3. Looking for the DSM V? You need to take a trip over to PsychiatryOnline to find it.
  4. Need streaming videos? From the “Databases” page, top far right (above “A”), click Videos.

Happy searching.



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