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Alas, Babylon Research Project: Searching Databases


Searching in research databases is not like searching in Google and the results are not equal.  Databases are available through subscription only and provide access to articles from books, magazines, journals, and newspapers that have been written or edited by experts in their field.   Because of this, information found in databases is usually more reliable and scholarly than most of what is found on the “free web.”  Most databases are specific to a certain subject.  You will find these designations on the library database page:   They also provide advanced searching capabilities and have other features that Google doesn’t provide.  If you are at home, you may need a password for access. Logins and Passwords for ALL databases and newspapers.  Sign into your account first.

If you have any inclination to pursue higher education, you must become familiar with searching research databases.   Using scholarly information properly is the cornerstone of any research project.  

  • When using databases, search keywords about your subject. The more specific and the less keywords you search the better.  Avoid punctuation.  Use quotation marks around phrases to search as a word.  Use the keyword shortcut: ctrl-f (or command-f in a Mac) to quickly find text within a page.
  • Database search engines index thousands of articles, but the basic search will only search through titles, authors, subjects, and summaries. If one keyword doesn’t work, use another word that is similar to it.  Keep trying.  If you find the perfect article, it’s well worth the extra effort.  Try advanced searching!
  • The features of a database can be extensive.  Print-friendly, email, download, citation tools, bookmarking, document translation, and read aloud options are available with many databases.  Some have a built-in dictionary.  Every database is a little different.  You should spend at least couple minutes exploring a database. 

Subject Guide

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Jennifer Jourdain
Montachusett Regional Voc Tech School
1050 Westminster Street
Fitchburg, MA 01420
(978) 345-9200 x5125