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Research @ Reynolds Libraries

4 a. Library databases

Anatomy of a Database Record for an Article

A database is an organized collection of online records in a standardized format that can be accessed in a variety of ways. Academic Search Complete is one example of a database. 

Each record in a database is composed of important elements of information that describe a specific item. For example, the elements of information for a specific article title in Academic Search Complete would be contained in a single database record.

Each record is composed of a set of fields which contain the individual elements of information. For example, each record in an article database includes fields such as: article title, authors, journal title (Source), subject terms, and abstract.


Example of a Record from the Academic Search Complete Database:

What are Databases and Why You Need Them

Library Databases - FAQs

While there are newspapers and other services, like Google Scholar, available online for free, the library databases are services to which we pay to have access. Most of the articles contained in the library databases cannot be found through a search engine.

What is a library database?

A library database, such as Academic Search Complete and MasterFILE Premier is an organized collection of electronic information that allows a user to search for a particular topic, article, book or video in a variety of ways (e.g., keyword, subject, author, title). Library databases contain thousands to millions of records or resources. The library purchases subscriptions to these databases (similar to purchasing a subscription to a magazine or newspaper).

What type of resources are indexed in library databases?

  • scholarly journal, popular magazine, and newspaper articles
  • reference materials (e.g., entries from dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc.)
  • books, pamphlets, government documents, etc.
  • streaming videos

What types of information do the databases provide?

All databases provide citation information about the items they index. A citation typically consists of: author's name, title of article, title of the book, journal, magazine, newspaper, or video, publisher, date of publication.

  • Many library databases also provide abstracts of the items they index.  An abstract is a brief summary of the article.
  • Many library databases also provide the full text (the entire article or book) for items they index.

How do the library databases differ in what they cover?

Some library databases are general - meaning that they index items from many subject areas or academic disciplines. If you're not sure which database to choose, you may want to start your research with our most comprehensive and general database, Academic Search Complete. Most library databases index items from a specific subject area or academic discipline (e.g., business, health, history, psychology). To browse databases by subject, use the Filter by Subject/Discipline menu option.

How do I access and use the databases?

The library databases can be accessed from the library’s homepage. If you are accessing the databases from off-campus, you will be prompted to login with your - My Reynolds username and password. The databases are accessible 24/7. If you need help in using the databases, chat with a librarian. This chat service is available 24/7. Just click on the Chat Now button located to the left side of any Reynolds Libraries page. You can also schedule a one-on-one research consultation with a librarian or sign up for a free library workshop.

Can't I get the same articles in the library databases by just Googling it?

In most cases, no.  Most of the information retrieved from the open web by using Internet search engines, such as Google, is free.  Library databases contain copyrighted, licensed, proprietary information that is not free.  Reynolds Library pays yearly subscription fees for its databases just like it pays yearly subscription fees for its print journals, magazines, and newspapers.

What's wrong with just Googling it?

There's nothing wrong with using Google or another search engine to find information on the web. Just keep in mind that most of the information retrieved from the open web hasn't been evaluated. It could be inaccurate, biased, or it might not be current. Also, the authors of web sites might not have the same credentials as the authors of articles found in the library databases. You will need to more carefully evaluate information retrieved on the open web. All of the articles found in the library databases have already been evaluated for accuracy and credibility by discipline-specific experts and publishers.

My instructor told our class we are not allowed to use any (or only a few) Internet sources.  Can I still use the library databases?

Yes.  Library databases use the Internet as a delivery system but they are not considered the Internet.  In most cases, your instructor means that they don’t want you using web sites or web pages found on the open web through Internet search engines such as Google.  Most of the published resources found in the library databases are not available on the open web.  Always clarify with your instructors what they actually mean when the class is told no (or few) Internet sources.

How do I find a database to search that is appropriate for my topic?

Databases A to Z

  1. If you are already know the name of the database you want to search, go to the library's homepage at
  2. When the library's home page appears, move your mouse over Research near the top of the screen.
  3. When the Research menu appears, click on Databases.
  4. When the next screen appears, click on the letter of the alphabet that the database begins with.





Finding Databases by Subject Area or Discipline:

  1. Go to the library's home page at
  2. When the library's home page appears, move your mouse over Research near the top of the screen.
  3. When the Research menu appears, click on Databases.
  4. When the next screen appears, click on the Filter by Subject/Discipline option.
  5. When the menu appears, select a subject.


General Databases:‚Äč

Start with a comprehensive general database such as Academic Search Complete or MasterFILE Premier.

Course and Subject Guides:

If your instructor or a librarian directed you to a specific course or subject guide from Reynolds Libraries' Research Guides website, try the databases listed in the guide by clicking on the Find Articles tab/page of the guide.

Ask a Librarian:

You also can ask a librarian for recommendations on which databases to search for your particular topic.

Finding Articles in the EBSCOhost Databases

The two videos below provide an overview on how to use various search techniques and limiter options in the EBSCOhost Academic Search Complete and MasterFILE Premier databases to find articles.