Thursday, January 22, 2015

Something Good: 5 Shortcuts to Database Basics

We're creatures of habit, you and I.  Get up at the same time.  Drive the same route.  Talk to lots of the same people. We have our favorites--we know what we like.  The trouble is, creatures of habit can miss something good.

The same notion applies to library research.  Perhaps you have a favorite database--or three or seven--that is your go-to source for articles in a field of study.  Click here, click there and you're in familiar and comfortable territory, fairly confident you'll find what you need. The trouble is, no database--or three or seven--contains everything. Each is a window into only a portion of the vast world of information.  It pays to be somewhat familiar, then, with the databases available to you as a TWU student or faculty member--because when it comes to academic research, you don't want to miss something good.

For the research and other information needs of the TWU community, the TWU Libraries provide access to hundreds of databases representing a sea of information.  Below, five shortcuts good for getting a handle on database basics.  

1  DATABASES A-Z LIST 
Shortcut To  An alphabetical list of databases accessible to members of the TWU community with current Pioneer Portal login information.  Good for locating a starting point when you know the name of the database you want to use . . . or when you only remember that it starts with a P.
Find It Here  Via the TWU Libraries homepage, under Research  

2  DATABASE DESCRIPTIONS
Shortcut To  An alphabetical list of database descriptions by database title, each containing a content overview; a list of related subject areas; the date range of the content; the frequency of updates; and relevant Subject Guides.  Good for brief database overviews; comparing databases; or when a database title sounds relevant to your research--but you're just not sure.   
Find It Here  Via a link at the top of the Databases A-Z List (via the TWU Libraries homepage, under Research)

3  DATABASE HELP GUIDES
Shortcut To  A list, in alphabetical order by database title, of tutorials/help pages/other search tips featured in the databases.  A good place to begin with any database you're using for the first time . . . or the tenth (some helpful features of the databases are more obvious than others.) 
Find It Here  Via a link at the top of the Databases A-Z List (via the TWU Libraries homepage, under Research) 

4  NEW DATABASES
Shortcut To  A list of databases added to our inventory, in reverse chronological order by date added (the most recent at the top).  Good for investigating the latest in database access provided by the TWU Libraries
Find It Here  Via a link at the top of the Databases A-Z List (via the TWU Libraries homepage, under Research)  

5  SUBJECT GUIDES 
Shortcut To  A list of Subject Guides, in alphabetical order by subject area, each featuring databases recommended for research in that field of study.  Good for winnowing down the Databases A-Z List to those databases pertinent to a specific topic or subject area.  These guides, dense with other helpful tips and information as well, are worth a look.  Of special note on each, in the righthand column, is the name and contact information of a professional librarian available for subject-specific research consultations for TWU students.       
Find It Here  Via the TWU Libraries homepage, under Research

For assistance with databases or other library matters, please contact us.  We are always happy to help.

~Sandy Cochran  

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