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What is a Database?


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Just what is your instructor or the librarian referring to when they tell you to use a database for your research? Knowing what composes a database might take some of the mystery out of the research process.

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What is a Database?

  1. 1. WHAT’S A DATABASE ? Wil Peters LSUS Noel Library April 2012
  2. 2. WHAT IS A DATABASE ?  Ever wonder what your instructor means exactly when they are referring you to “one of the library’s databases ?”  Take a minute, for an explanation of what the library’s databases can mean to you in researching a topic for a class assignment.
  3. 3. A DATABASE IS…  Basically, it’s a collection of information.
  4. 4. TO NAME A FEW:  A dictionary (like the online Oxford English Dictionary that we just looked in.)  Phone directory  This library’s online catalog  Search engines (Google)  FaceBook ?
  5. 5. IN THE LIBRARY, MOST DATABASES ARE,  Searchable collections of journal articles.  As in the EBSCO site: Academic Search Complete, Education Resource Complete, MLA Int. Bibliography, etc.  Noel Library currently offers about 100 different databases.  Majority of these provided by collaborative funding through the LOUIS Project (consortium of Louisiana academic libraries) funded in large part by the Louisiana Board of Regents
  6. 6. THE DATABASES ARE FOUND  Through the library’s homepage  Important to access them this way as they are licensed by their vendors for LSUS students & faculty. If searching from off-campus, must be authenticated as LSUS student or faculty (same as for MyLSUS, except faculty must use their PID & PIN)
  8. 8. WHAT TYPE OF INFORMATION IS FOUND IN LIBRARY DATABASES ? (VARIES ACCORDING TO DATABASE)  Periodical articles (magazines, journals, newspapers)  Legal information (court cases, statutes, etc.)  Ebooks  Images,maps  Reference works (dictionaries, books)
  9. 9. WHAT SUBJECTS DO THEY COVER ?  Some databases are multidisciplinary, e.g., Academic Search Complete (EBSCO)  Some are subject-specific. e.g., PsycARTICLES (EBSCO)
  10. 10. WHAT DO THESE DATABASES LOOK LIKE ? DEPENDING ON THE PRODUCER/VENDOR,  Each producer/vendor will create a specific look for the search interface/ home page  Currently LSUS Library subscribes to ca. 50 different EBSCO databases, these all have the same look & feel  Other vendors’ products are designed differently & uniquely
  11. 11. HOW DO DATABASES DIFFER FROM GOOGLE ?  Search engines (like Google) are searching millions of web pages,  Databases are finite collections , e.g., articles from 1000 journals  Databases are proprietary, i.e., owned & sold & licensed by for-profit companies
  12. 12. WHAT ARE SUBSCRIPTION DATABASES ?  Means that the information is accessible only to subscribers (the library & students & faculty/staff), databases are fee based products
  13. 13. WHY CAN’T I READ THE FULL TEXT ? AVAILABILITY OF FULL TEXT VARIES,  Databases provide full text of journal articles through licensing agreements with journals  This means that some journals will license (sell) access to a number of back years (may include up to current issue) of their journal full text  Often the most recent issues (12 mos or 6 mos) are not available full text . (embargo)
  14. 14. DATABASES ARE ACCESSED VIA THE LIBRARY’S HOME PAGE  The library’s home page has a link to the databases, Find Articles & Databases  This will list ca. 100 distinct databases  There is also a list of broad subject areas on left  Library research guides, or LibGuides will have links to & search tips for related databases
  15. 15. ANY QUESTIONS ?  If “yes,”—then…  Stop in at Reference Desk, 1st Fl., Noel Library  Email us  Call us 318-797-5068  Ref. Desk hours, same as library’s hours Wil Peters