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Renewable Energy Library Dissertation Research: 6. Find: Research Databases

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. 

Explore some of the core resources for your subject area from the A-Z Databases list and try searching for information on your dissertation topic.

Highlighted below are a few key resources that could prove useful across a wide range of different research areas.


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. 

Renewable Energy databases

A full text database covering literature across geography, environmental sciences, renewable energy and urban planning and policy. 

Try the Environment Complete Search Activity on this page.

Environment complete search box

GreenFILE covers all aspects of human impact on the environment. Topics include green buildings and renewable energy. Note: it is possible to search GreenFILE and Environment Complete at the same time - see the Environment Complete Activity to learn how.  

Click here for Help with searching GreenFile on EBSCO

GreenFile search box

Offers access to the scientific and technical content published by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and its publishing partners. Covers all aspects of computing and electrical engineering, including power and energy and smart grids.

IEEE search

A key source of technical information for engineers and scientists. Knovel provides interactive graphs and equations, plus ebooks and databooks. Knovel has a section on Sustainable Energy & Development. 


A database of per-reviewed journals, articles and book chapters and open access content. Primarily covering sciences, including energy, technology and medicine.

Get started by using the Make the most of your access to ScienceDirect pdf

ScienceDirect search

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.

Web of Science search

Sage Research Methods

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.

Sage have produced this LibGuide to help you get the best from the resource.

You can access full text content and instructional videos from leading academics from across the social sciences.

It covers both qualitative and quantitative methods.

Some of the sections are not available - this is indicated by a padlock.  For example, you cannot access the Cases or Datasets sections.

The Methods Map is designed to help you understand the relationship between methods concepts.

You can use it for definitions of particular research methodology terms or concepts, and then link through to content on that subject.  You can also see broader and narrower research content terms.

Find out more in the Sage instructional video. 


Enter a research method / concept into the search box - e.g. observation

Scroll through and view items of interest.

You can select other Refine by options if you retrieve a large set of search results. 

Click to see more info on datasets, cases and video

Link to PDF on Sage Research Methods: introducing datasets, cases and videos

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