Library Search is often a good starting point for introductory material, but if you want to find the global literature on a topic, or go beyond a quick surface search, you should follow up with a database search.
Databases allow you to tailor your search more precisely by using the sophisticated search options available.
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.
Why use databases?
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 most cases, you should be able to access electronic resources off campus, exactly as you would do on campus. If you have problems accessing resources off-campus, here are some tips:
1. Log in via the Electronic Library or Library Catalogue
A lot of resources authenticate by IP address, which is fine if you are on campus, but won’t work if you are off campus, so where possible please try to log in via the Library Search Page, as this will ensure that you are fully authenticated.
2. Check for an Institutional login option
If you are trying to access resources directly from publishers’ sites etc. please look for ‘Institutional login’ or ‘UK Federation’ links and follow the steps on screen to select the University of Exeter and log in using your UoE username and password. Again, where possible please try to log in via the Library Search Login, as this will ensure that you are fully authenticated.
3. Check your local settings
Some computers have security software which may interfere with access to the library’s electronic resources. Access to electronic resources requires that you allow cookies (including some 3rd party cookies) and that your network allows you to be routed through the library’s proxy server. Please check this with your local IT support.
4. Clear cookies & cache in the event of errors
If you are encountering error messages when logging into electronic resources when on and off campus the most common error is caused by stored information on the browser causing conflicts. To rectify these please follow the instructions here: Clear Cookies and Cache.
You can access the databases via the A to Z Database List.
Use the A-Z Databases list:
The breadth of Liberal Arts means that the huge range of databases available to you can be found under the subject area that you are studying so for example, if you are looking at plays, choose the Drama option to see the full list of Drama 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 Project Muse, which is a valuable humanities research database.
You can search for databases by the type of content they contain. This can be particularly useful if you are only interested in one type of source such as primary sources or audiovisual sources.