Help Guides » Using Databases

Using Databases

What is a Database?

Databases vs. Google

Databases: are searchable collections of electronic articles, books, video, and audio that are not available free online.

▶️ Watch a video comparing databases and Google

Searching Databases

Don’t search databases with whole questions or phrases. Instead, use keywords to represent your research question.

▶️ Watch a video about database searching


Reading the Search Results

Item Database Records

For every item in the search results, you will see a record of important information about the item.

Reading the record will help you decide which sources to choose.

▶️ Watch a video about reading item records

Is this source Scholarly?

Some articles in databases are from scholarly journals, and some are from news, professional, or popular periodicals.

Different assignments will require different types of articles.

▶️Watch a video about how to tell if an article is scholarly.


How to navigate different databases

Ebsco, ProQuest & Gale

Most CUW library databases are from one of 3 providers: EbscoHost, Proquest, or Gale. Each provider has a unique set of results and “look and feel”.

You can compare these to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime for streaming video services. Each option has different movies and different categories and search options.


Subject Terms

What are they?

  • Each database has a unique set of standardized terms for different topics covered inside the database called subject terms (STs).

▶️Watch a video about STs vs. keywords

  • Medical and life sciences databases will have MeSH terms, a special type of ST.
  • STs are links. When you click on them, a new search will open with all the items assigned that same ST.
  • If your topic does have an ST, you should use it in your search terms.
  • Not every topic will have an ST.

Where do I find them?

  1. Inside individual item records.
Screen shot of subject terms in item record
ProQuest Databases
Screenshot of subject terms in ebsco databases
EBSCO Databases

2. In Search results, listed by how frequently they are used by items in the results.

Subject terms in proquest search
Proquest Databases
Ebsco subject terms in results
Ebsco Databases

Searching Multiple Databases at Once

  • In Primo, you can search most of the library’s databases at once but there are fewer filter options than many databases.

Databases from the same provider (EBSCO or ProQuest) can be searched at the same time, or added to an existing search.

  1. Go to the provider’s list of all the databases available: EbscoHost or Proquest
  2. Choose the databases you would like to search together and click “continue” or “use selected databases” .
Screenshot of Proquest select databases menu
ProQuest Databases
Screen shot of ebsco choose databases page
EBSCO Databases