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Mathematics: Tutorial - Finding and using library resources: 4. Research databases

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

Databases provide access to scholarly research, including journal articles, conference proceedings and books.

They also provide access to specific types of materials such as maps, film, news, official papers, standards etc.

wide range of databases are available to you at the University and are accessible 24/7 with your university login.

Below, you can find out more about the core databases relevant to your subject area. 

Use the full A--Z database list to access all available databases.  Depending on your research topic, you mau need to explore databases from other subject areas in order to access the full breadth of information available to you.

Take some time to explore the databases and familiarise yourself with searching and downloading information.

All Databases

Database Activities

About Databases

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

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:

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.

In some cases, material you want to consult may not be available to you at Exeter. 

You will be using vast literature databases which feature many millions of resources from around the world. There are a number of options that may be of assistance to connect you with the information you need. 

Document Delivery Service

This service can be used  to request books/journal articles from other libraries. There is a charge for this service. Check online to see what arrangements are in place with your College / Department for covering the costs of this service.  You may have an allocation or your supervisor may provide a prepaid token for the request. 


Student Book Suggestion Scheme

Students can make book suggestions to the Library. Submit requests online and they will be reviewed by the library. If the book is unlikely to be used by others after your dissertation work, then you may be directed to the Document Delivery scheme instead, for short term access to material.


Library Hub Discover

Use this service to search across the book and journal collections of the UK research and specialist libraries.

You can search to see if copies of books/journals are available in other libraries that you could visit whilst at home over the vacation, or by a special trip.  Always check the access requirements before you travel, if you wish to visit another library.  Find out more about visiting other libraries. 

Databases for your subject

The Maths databases are listed here, with more information on recommended resources in the adjacent tabs. 

Use your University username and password to login and access these resources.

MathSciNet is produced by AMS (American Mathematical Society) and is the authoritative gateway to the scholarly literature of mathematics.

Use it to:
• Quickly get up to speed on a new topic
• Look up a researcher’s body of work 
• Find an article or book and track its reference list
• Research a math department to prepare for a job interview

Use the QuickStart guide if you are new to this resources. This has lots of hints and tips to help you search effectively. You can also use the Help Index and FAQ sections for guidance.

More detailed guidance and information about the resource is available on the AMS website.

Access to thousands of abstracts for articles, conference papers and book chapters across a range of subject disciplines. Use SCOPUS to link to full-text holdings, find related items and track article citations.

For more information about how to search SCOPUS, see their range of tutorials.

Web of Science  (WoS) is one of the key research databases that enables you to search across global literature on a topic. You can use sophisticated search techniques to help pinpoint the information you need. You can also use WoS functionality to link through to full text (where available) and examine related references and cited references in order to broaden your research.

See below for brief instructions on how to search the database.

Make sure you visit the Web of Science guided tutorial, for a more detailed introduction to the database.


The Current Index to Statistics is a bibliographic index to publications in statistics, probability, and related fields. It is produced by the American Statistical Association and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics.

This online database indexes the entire contents of over 160 "core journals", in most cases from 1975 (or first issue if later) to the current end year, and pre-1975 coverage for some, selected articles with statistical content since 1975 from about 1200 additional journals (cumulatively) in related fields, and about 11,000 books in statistics published since 1975.

Information on continued access to Current Index to Statistics


CIS will remain open until December 31, 2019 and at that time will be shut down.

"After much consideration, this decision was reached for the following reasons: most of the relevant scientific bibliography is now covered by Google Scholar, which is free and well resourced; the world of scientific bibliography is increasingly technical computationally; modern tools make processing of bibliographic data from publishers more efficient but also require investment in tools and expertise that are less feasible for a small project like CIS than for larger scale ones like broader bibliographic databases; and similar issues arise for search interface and functionality.

CIS is currently researching options for long term preservation of the data contained in CIS. We will update users as this progresses."

Statement from IMS/ASA

JSTOR provides access to scholarly book, journal and primary sources via an easy to use search interface.

Use the How to Search JSTOR LibGuide for a general introduction to the service. The Mathematics & Statistics Resources on JSTOR guide will introduce you to the content available in this area. Mathematics & Statistics is a growing area of content on JSTOR and journals in this area come from prestigious societies and organizations such as the American Statistical Association, & the Institute of Mathematical Statistics

JSTOR also has a Vimeo channel for educational and instructional videos. 

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