Monday, October 8, 2012

Database 411

Searching databases can be a daunting task.  While many of the databases available through TWU Libraries function in a similar manner, a majority of them have completely different interfaces.

To make database use less daunting and more productive, TWU Libraries offer Database Descriptions
(to get an idea of database content) and Database Help Guides (to learn how to use databases)--both available via TWU Libraries' Databases A-Z List (accessible from the TWU Libraries homepage under Research.)

Scanning Database Descriptions can be a good way to evaluate whether or not a database (or databases) will be useful for your research and studies.  Database Help Guides go even further, offering tutorials or step-by-step instructions for a majority of the databases TWU Libraries provide access to.

If after using these resources you still have trouble using a database, try finding a tutorial located in the database itself.  Tutorials are useful, customized tools that teach the basics of using a particular database; oftentimes a link for one is located on a database’s navigation bar or under Help.  For example, the tutorial for the database Berg Fashion Library is called Take a Tour and is accessible directly from Berg's navigation bar.  Help sections can be very useful when you know the database you need and simply want searching tips.

Using database descriptions and tutorials are well worth the small investment of time they require.  Both can save time and frustration in the long run as you learn how to use databases more effectively.

~Amy Blackburn

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