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Drama DRA2045: Finding & using library resources: Where should I look? A to Z database list


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 search across multiple sources in one go. They also tailor your search more precisely by using the sophisticated search options available. 

It's important to note that not all database content is available via Library Search. If you want to search across all of our collections, search the individual databases too!

Research Databases: an overview

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. Drama databases will often contain reviews, playscripts, recordings of performances etc.

Why use databases?

  • Research databases will contain content not freely available on Google!
  • You can quickly search for scholarly material across a wide range of sources
  • You can build complex searches using sophisticated search options. You can also refine your searches, ensuring that the results are most 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.



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 sign in via  Library Search, 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 sign in via Library Search, 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.

A- Z Databases

You can access the databases via the A to Z Database List.

Use the A-Z Databases list:

  • To conduct comprehensive literature review of a topic
  • To search specialist resources such as archives, news, mapping, image sources etc.

You can quickly find the most relevant databases by selecting Drama from the drop down subject menu.

The 'core resources' for Drama appear at the top of the list. These are key databases that are likely to be of interest to anyone studying in this area.

Explore the Drama listings to become familiar with all the Drama resources available to you.

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.


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