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?
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
To find databases, use the A-Z list. See the next tabs for help with finding the best databases for your topic.
Use the Database Targets worksheet to record useful databases as you explore.
You can scroll through the A-Z and choose a database if you know exactly what you are looking for.
The exercise you completed earlier, to work out which types of information you needed,will help you pinpoint the material you needed.
Select databases by Subject
You can select your subject from the drop down subject menu to see a subset of resources in that category.
The subject listings will highlight the 'core resources'; these are key databases that are likely to be of interest to anyone studying and researching in that area.
Your Subject LibGuide will also highlight recommended databases for you to explore
Select databases by Type
You can select a database type from the drop down type menu to see a subset of resources in that category.
For example, you may want to focus on news, official publications or reference works databases
Each entry in the A-Z database list has an information icon. Hover over that symbol for information about the content that is available in the database and an idea of why it might be useful for research purposes.
Shown below is the information for Anthropology Online, which is a valuable anthropological research database.
Anthropology Online is a large research database focusing on the study of social and cultural life and all aspects of human behaviour, including: kinship, family, race, material culture, marriage, gender, prehistory, evolution, kinesthetics, food and foraging, cooking, economic systems, social stratification and status, male and female roles, political organization, conflict and conflict resolution, religion and magic, music and the arts, and much more.
You can Browse or Search content from the Anthropology Online Home Page.
Indexing facilitates searching/browsing at geographical region, cultural or kinship group, anthropological subjects, and more.
Use the Anthropology Online LibGuide for comprehensive support and training
The Advanced Search option allows for more targeted searching.
As well as entering your own search terms, you can use the various indexes to Select Terms from the drop down indexed lists
For example you an choose: Topic / Author / Cultural Group etc.
You can also specify format and publication date ranges.
IBSS and ASSIA are academic research databases on the ProQuest platform (sharing the same interface and features). They are both multidisciplinary resources, offering peer-reviewed academic articles and other research materials from across the social sciences including anthropology, ethnology, ethnography and cultural studies.
ASSIA can also be searched as part of the Proquest Sociology collection.
JSTOR is a valuable research resource for secondary resources. You can use it to search and find the full text of published books and journal articles.
You an enter a quick search into the quick search box on the JSTOR home page, for example:
anthropology and "human diversity"
Just click on an item to view it and explore it in more detail
You can refine your search results from the Refine Results options on the left of your search results.
You may want to refine your results if you find too many as a result of your initial search.
For example, you can search within results or limit by content type (books or journals), date of publication or subject
The advanced search allows you to be more targeted with your research and apply limits/filters to your search before you begin.
For example, you can add multiple search terms, specify the proximity of your search terms and also select a discipline, e.g. Anthropology, so that you filter out material from other subject disciplines.
Web of Science is a large multidisciplinary research database covering all subject areas.
You can use it to discover the global literature on a wide range of topics. It is not a full text database, but you can use it to discover published material and follow links through to discover the full text available on other services. For in depth guidance explore the Web of Science learning site, YouTube Videos or the Web of Science LibGuide.
Sage Research Methods Online (SRMO) is a great resource to use when you are planning and conducting your research. It is a vast online research methods library.
It is targeted at social science researchers, and covers key research methodology topics that are applicable across the research spectrum.
Use the SAGE research methods LibGuide to help you get the best from the resource.
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