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Library Research E-Textbook - Instructor Version: Advanced Article Searching

Using Databases and Finding Articles

Articles come in many forms. An article database is the place where we usually search for various types of articles. In this lesson, you'll find tips to effective searching, and guidance on how to begin making choices about which databases are best for your topic.

In this module you will learn:

  • Where to go to find all kinds of articles
  • How to choose the best database for your research topic
  • Search tips for getting relevant articles

Start Here: Article Searching

Choosing a Database

The Library has many article databases, so how do you choose? Watch this video, Identifying Additional Databases, for some tips:

Direct link to video:


Click here to proceed to the next page of the module, Boolean Operators and Truncation.

Instructor Tip: Review

At this point in the semester, and in our modules, it may be useful to review some of the topics covered in previous modules, especially if students are having difficulty grasping certain concepts (are students confused on any particular activity from previous modules?):

  • Keywords
  • Videos for narrowing and broadening search terms
  • Basic Research Strategies
  • Video for a basic search on Academic Search Complete
  • Citing Sources

Activity Option 1: Search, find, describe

Using the techniques presented in the videos, find 2 articles and complete the following steps:

  • Name the database that you selected for your search.
  • Describe one of the techniques that you used to find these articles.
  • Submit the MLA formatted citations for the two articles.

Please consider sharing your students' work with Rachel Santose ( for assessment purposes.

Activity Option 2: Present a Database

Present on how to use a specific database. For instance:

Choose a library research database that interests you from Databases by Subject. Spend time exploring the database and then prepare a detailed guide for your peers that covers the following:

  • What the database is;
  • What sort of information you can find in it; and
  • A step-by-step description of how to use it

You may write the guide as a 2-3 page Word document or, if you prefer, create the guide as a website or video of equivalent length. For creating videos, a great resource is the free and easy to use Jing download.

Please consider sharing your students' work with Rachel Santose ( for assessment purposes.

Activity Option 3: Database Discovery

Step 1: What is the topic you want to explore? Please describe it in a few sentences below:


After watching the video on Choosing a Database, visit the Research Databases page on the library website.  Using the Databases by Subject, identify three subjects (in other words, disciplines, such as Criminal Justice) that relate to your topic. Remember to ask yourself, “Who is writing on my topic?”




Step 2: From the subjects you identified above, select a database that you think will be useful for research on your topic. Provide the name of the database below and a sentence about why you selected it (e.g., I’m most interested in the psychological aspects of tattoos and the PsycINFO database is a place to find articles from psychology journals.) Hint: EBSCO is the publisher of the database and PsychINFO is the name of the database.

1. Database name:

2. Why I chose it

Step 3: After watching the video on Article Search Tips, explore the database and provide a step-by-step description of how to use it and its key features.

In your own words, define what a database is:

  • Describe the advanced search options (e.g., What are the limiters available?):
  • Describe the contents of the database (e.g., Are there full text articles? How do you get the article? What kinds of articles are included?):
  • Describe your favorite two features of the database (e.g., Look for a time-saver like a “cite this” feature).

Please consider sharing your students' work with Rachel Santose ( for assessment purposes.