Library databases provide access to the content of material published in journals, newspapers, magazines and other specialist collections. Many contain links to the full-text article or may just provide a citation and abstract.
The library databases are big of collections of articles. Some are research articles, others more general. Some articles are fulltext on the databases, others are not.
If you do not know which database to use, try Databases MultiSearch on the UC Library homepage
If you want a more specific database, see Databases for Pacific Studies
Before you start, spend a few minutes thinking about all the words and concepts around your chosen topic, including synonyms and related concepts. This process will help you:
1. Clarify your topic
2. Break it into parts or themes ( and allow you to focus your topic and discard elements)
3. Identify key words to use in your searches
Rule of thumb: Start with a general search and narrow it down. Add one element of your search in at a time, so you can see what effect each change has on the results.
Spelling: Remember that U.S spellings are sometimes different, e.g behaviour, behavior. Read our tips for searching databases to learn more.
Different terminology: Other countries may use different terms, and you will need to search on all variations.
Build your search using AND and OR:
Cats AND Dogs find all articles that have BOTH words.
Cats OR Dogs find articles that have EITHER the word Cats OR the word Dogs OR both.
If you are including both the AND operator and the OR in your search statement, put brackets around the part of the statement being Ored:
(Cats or Dogs) and Rabbits.
This ensures that the OR statement is processed first. You will get a vastly different and unintended result if you do not use brackets.
As a rule of thumb: get your results down to about 100. This is a comfortable number to look through. You will strike many useless articles – this is the peril of keyword searching.
• You can build as big a search stream as you like. Using ‘and’ will decrease the results. Using ‘or’ will increase the results.
Keep adding on terms as you refine the search:
2. Samoa* and religion
3. Samoa* and (religion or church)
4. Samoa* and (religion or church) and wom?n
• Most databases have “Limit” functions on the first search page. These enable you to cut down large results by screening out information by date, language, document type, or level of the information. Have a look and see what is there.
If you initially find only one or two items that look interesting, don't despair!
• Look at the records and at the subject headings / descriptors that are listed. See what terms they have used to describe the content, and add these to your list of keywords to search
• Check other articles written by the same author(s)
• When you find a good article, see if the database has a “find more like this” link to click
• When you find a good article, check the bibliography for other articles that may be relevant. Keep in mind that the articles in the bibliography will be older than the article you have found.