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THE1103: Finding and using library resources for assignments: 2. Where should I look?

Online tutorial introducing you to the skills and techniques needed for effective library research



Once you have decided what sort of research materials you want to work with, you can choose the best research tool to help you find that material.

There are two Library Research tools that will help you find print and electronic primary and secondary materials:

Library Search - use this to look for specific books/journal titles, and to research a new topic when you are unsure where to start

A-Z Databases - use this to conduct a comprehensive literature review on a topic, and to find more specialist materials and types of information

Videos to help you use Library Search

Video to help you use Databases A-Z

Library Search

Library Search

Use Library Search to:

  • find book and journals titles and other items available online or in print via the Library Catalogue.

  • search for Articles + more across a wide range of full text resources via the library's discovery service. This allows you to search within books and journal articles to find relevant content.  

Help and guidance on using Library Search is available online via the Library Search LibGuide.

A search for christology in Library Search returns the following catalogue results. Note the type of content. There is a mixture of print and electronic texts and commentary.

This search finds matches in book and journal titles.  For more granular searching within the content of books and journals you should use the Articles + more feature of Library Search and the research databases.

A search for christology in Library Search Articles + more returns the following results. 

In addition to all the content in the Catalogue tab, there is also a wide range of content from various full text resources, with journal articles that match your search terms.

Articles + more search is often a good starting point for introductory material, but if you want to research the global literature on a topic, and go beyond quick full text results, then you should follow up with a database search. You can tailor your search more precisely using all the sophisticated functionality available on the research databases.  

You can also search for particular journal titles. For example, search for the journal Theological Studies.


Click on the title of the journal for more details. 

This journal is available online - click on one of the links to access it. Note the coverage dates and select the option that contains the issue of the journal you want.

Finding Resources via the A-Z Databases

You can scroll through the A-Z and choose a database if you know exactly what you are looking for.

Or select your subject from the drop down subject menu to see a subset of resources in that category.

Or select a database type from the drop down type menu to see a subset of resources in that category.

Select Theology from the drop down subject menu.

A few core resources will be highlighted in the yellow box. These are key databases that are likely to be of interest to anyone studying and researching in that area. All other databases relevant to the subject are listed below the core resources. 

Your ELE module contains some recommendations for resources that you will want to explore in support of this module.

Some of they key resources that you are likely to find most useful for this module are highlighted in the remainder of the guide.

What is a database? 

Research databases enable you to see what has been published in the area you are researching. 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.

Why should I use a database?

  • 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

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.


For more information and top tips on finding the full text, see the How to access full text articles libguide.

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