Review of Literature Databases - April 2, 2009
Information specialists, librarians, researchers, students, and the general
public search databases. For additional information regarding a database,
check with an information professional or any "help" icon or description of
Databases overlap, combine, emerge, disappear, some are public, some
are free, some are fee-based, some are large and include much information,
others are divided into smaller subsets.
- collection of records, citations, summaries and/or fulltext articles
- our general subject is literature, specifically "authors"
- subjects include literature, medicine, nursing, science, law, etc.
- stored in some format on a computer system (online database)
- created by an individual, group, or organization
- creator may sell to one or more vendors/publishers
- vendors and/or publishers put database on their own platform (interface)
- search uses keywords, phrases, graphics (upcoming), etc.
- purpose to find the records (data) in the database on our topic (author)
Some databases are sold in groups by vendors such as Ebsco (Ebscohost),
Gale, or provided by organizations including OhioLink, public libraries,
the U.S. government (IRS, National Library of Medicine, Dept of Agriculture)
The same database is packaged differently by each vendors/database distributors
that buys it including Ebsco, Gale, Lexis-Nexis, Proquest, OhioLink, Dialog,
STN (Chemical Abstracts).
Boolean Operators (best to use all capital letters for AND, OR, NOT) are used in
database and internet searches.
Boolean logic uses circles to represent sets in a Venn diagram.
- Venn diagrams introduced by
John Venn in 1880
- John Venn was a priest, philosopher, wrote a book on logic.
AND operator -- narrows a search as both terms must be in the record
Example: dogs AND cats includes records that include both dogs and cats
in the same article. In a Google search, the AND is understood.
OR operator -- broadens a search as either term may be in the record
Example: dogs OR cats includes records on dogs and additional records on cats.
In a google search the OR must be in caps and included in the search strategy.
NOT operator -- excludes records with the term after the NOT operator
Example dogs NOT cats includes articles only on dogs, no cats
Additional directions/rules for the use of any database provided by a vendor,
using the vendor's platform (interface).
- check instructions on using the database
- find out the scope of the database, what it does and does not include
- always look for and click on "help",
- look for a "question mark", or other icon for instructions
- if you can not find what you need when you enter words in the
database, look for the "help" icon or any support information
- many databases and search engines use the double quote to search an exact
phrase. Example "ice cream"
- if you get zero results, recheck your search strategy before assuming there is no information on the topic.
How databases may differ:
- - offer the citation and/or full text as .html or .pdf
- - years included or excluded
- - languages -- English and/or foreign languages
- - currency, some are updated faster than others
- - subject(s) included
Databases of interest to us in this course:
MLA (International) Bibliography
- (EBSCO & other vendors offer it on their platforms)
- literature, languages, linguistics, and folklore from journals
- in the screen shot below Alice Walker is in double quotes
- double quotes are used to search for an exact phrase
- depending upon the database, use the subject heading,
- forms of the name included depend upon the database
- Ebsco Full Text only was selected (see the arrow)
- O.K. to select all three Academic Journals/Peer Reviewed,
Exclude Dissertations, and Ebsco Full Text
Literature Resource Center
- 1926 to current
- biographical information,
- full-text literary criticism and reviews
- 130,000 writers in all disciplines
- includes Twayne's Authors Series (a database)
- some local public libraries include the MLA International Bibliography as an optional
module within the "Literature Resource Center"
- our college obtains MLA International Bibliography from EBSCO via Ohiolink, thus,
MLA International Bibliography is a separate database from the Literature Resource Center database
- note on the screen shot below that a Person Search was performed on
Alice Walker and two possibilities are shown
- notice the arrow at Guided Tour, near the top of the
Literature Resource Center screen. Guided tours and help icons explain the
features and how best to use a database.
Finding an author in the Literature Resource Center
Literary Reference Center
- (EBSCOHOST (EBSCO) platform)
- - described as a more graphical interface
- - notice the arrow pointing to Browse Most Studied Authors (below first picture)
Format of records in a database may include:
- **** full text in .html or .pdf ****
Academic Search Complete database
Library acquires databases, links online collections, purchases
full text, and/or allows students to order materials (interlibrary loan may
take time depending upon the lending library).
Search Engines (Google, Yahoo, etc)
do not exist!
- - Boolean operators apply to search engines (use CAPS for OR, AND, NOT)
- - the AND is understood in Google
- - one must use the OR and nest the search strategy
- - double quotes used to search the exact phrase "ice cream"
Example: Google Scholar at http://www.scholar.google.com
- - Google Scholar search tips
- - search Engines may, or may not, access full text
- - some libraries link their full text collections to Google Scholar
- - Google Scholar suggests the use of initials of the author rather than the full name
- - best to use multiple strategies and verify the result is the author you want
- - use Google Scholar as a last resort as the citations may not offer full text
- - thousands of articles have been written about Alice Walker
- - there are many persons named Alice Walker on Google
- - see the narrow search of an aspect of Alice Walker's writings (moral ecology)
- - notice the arrows pointing to two .pdf (full text) documents
- - a pdf document is an exact copy of the original document
Click on the Google blog for
important new Google features as of 3/24/2009.
In regard to the internet, be aware that information may be fictitious.
Example: click on this web site authored by an excellent physician.
Dr. Martin includes full text of his expert medical papers and books. Recently he started a fun section
on his web site entitled,
Fictitious Reviews, full text reviews
of works that
Dr. Martin enjoys writing each evening. He hopes the fictitious portion of his
web site might inspire others to write.
Revised April 25, 2009 by RSR for MSS