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Using Library electronic resources: Next steps: Research databases

A brief introduction to the Library's electronic resources


Databases provide access to published scholarly research.

They contain detailed records of thousands of journal articles, book references and conference proceedings. These records usually include the article title, authors, abstract (a brief summary), keywords (to enable your search to find it) and more.




  • They are a valuable way of searching for published scholarly research across a wide number of sources
  • You can build complex searches using sophisticated search interfaces. There will be plenty of options to refine your searches, ensuring that the results are likely to be relevant to your needs
  • They contain huge numbers of records, and thus provide comprehensive subject coverage
  • They also provide frequent (often daily) indexing, and so are very up to date

There are many different databases. Their interfaces will all vary, and they may use different terminology.

However, they all have similar features. Once you are familiar with these, you'll be able to find your way around different databases. You can see the main features in the examples below.

This is what a standard database interface looks like:

Once you click the Search button, the results page appears:

Take a look at the Database Search tutorial for a further look at how to search within a database.

It is important to note:

  • Some databases provide full text access to the articles themselves.
  • Some databases are primarily indexes or bibliographic databases, and although they provide information about the content of a journal article, they may not provide full-text access to the actual article itself.
  • Some databases are a mixture of full-text and indexed/bibliographic access.


So, when searching databases, be prepared for an extra step. 

After finding a relevant article or book you need to check whether you have access to that item, either in print or in full-text online.  Many of the databases will have a Check for this at Exeter button; clicking on this link will check whether we have access to the item.



1. Log in via Library Search

A lot of resources authenticate by IP address, which is fine if you are on campus, but won't work if you are off campus, so where possible please try to log in via the Library Search, as this will ensure that you are fully authenticated.


 2. Or check for an Institutional login option 

If you are trying to access resources directly from publishers' sites, please look for 'Institutional login' and choose University of Exeter from the list. You may have to select 'UK Access Management Federation' first. 

N.B. We do not use Athens usernames and passwords at the University, so you will not be able to access resources this way 


3. Set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN

This allows you to access the university network from home or any other location with an internet connection.


As you search, you may well come across references to books or journals that are not available in the Library. 

It may be possible to obtain these from another library via our document delivery service.

Key Databases

Use the Databases A-Z List and choose the relevant Subject area and/or Database Type to identify which databases are relevant to you. You will see a Core Resources selection which flags the most important databases first.  Each database entry is accompanied by a brief description so you can find out what is included in each database and why it might be useful to your research.

Databases that are relevant across all subject areas include the following

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