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Natural Sciences: effective library research for dissertations: Research databases

Online support to assist with planning and conducting your library dissertation research

About Databases

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.

  • valuable way of searching for published scholarly research across a wide number of sources
  • ability to build complex searches plus options to refine those searches, ensuring that the results are likely to be relevant to your needs
  • huge numbers of records, meaning comprehensive subject coverage
  • very up to date


  • 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 some cases, material may not be available to you at Exeter. 

There are a number of options to help connect you with the information you need:

Request books/journal articles from other libraries. There is a charge for this service, but check online to see whether your College will cover the cost. 

Students can submit requests for books and they will be reviewed by the library 

Search across the book and journal collections of the UK research and specialist libraries. Find out more about visiting other libraries. 

Finding resources using the A- Z Databases list

You can scroll through the A-Z list and choose a database if you know exactly what you are looking for.


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.


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.

Natural Sciences databases

Databases intro

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

These are some of the key research databases for Natural Sciences:

Natural Sciences databases

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.

See below for brief instructions on how to search the database.

Make sure you visit the tutorial, available in the self-test activities section on this page, for more detailed guidance.

Once you click the Search button, the results page appears:

Take a look at the Database Search tutorial for a further look at how to search within a database.

Access to thousands of abstracts for articles, conference papers and book chapters across a range of subject disciplines. Use SCOPUS to link to full-text holdings, find related items and track article citations.

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