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Art History and Visual Culture: Finding and using library resources: 5. Research databases

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

A wide range of databases are  available to you at the University. 

Below, you can find out more about research databases , and also browse the Anthropology Databases list.

More support information is provided on a selection of the key databases you will use for your anthropological research.


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


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.



Key databases for your subject

This video shows you how to make the most of Artstor, from creating your own personal account to exporting image groups.

Watch this video to find out how to use Grove Art (Part of the Oxford Art Online collection)

Click here for help with advanced searching.

Activity: Tutorial

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