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Information Literacy: Databases

Below are many guides, but remember, real human Librarians are standing by to assist you! Drop by any time.

For academic research, you will need to locate high quality materials. These are found in books and scholarly and  academic magazines and journals.

The databases on this page are ones that we recommend you use. Why? Unlike a Google search articles in databases:

* have been vetted and selected by experts

* are cataloged and subjects added

* list credentials of authors

* are published in magazines/journals with quality reputations

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About Databases

Tip of the Iceberg (Flickr)

Only 10% of an iceberg can be seen from the surface.

Only 10% of what is available on the surface web is free. Much of the deep web is available is in subscription databases. and that info is already vetted.

What is a database?

A database is a collection of logically related records that can be read by a computer. Computerized address books and online library catalogs are examples of commonly used databases.

Isn't the Web the biggest and best database?

The Web isn't actually a database because it isn't really organized or consistent.

Why do I need databases if everything I need can be found on the Web?

There is a tremendous amount of information that is NOT available on the web. Even if information is delivered via the Web, it may not be free. This is what is known as the "invisible" or "deep" web. As a college student, you need to know that there are thousands of academic databases available through libraries.

Is what I find in a database more reliable than what is found on the Web?

Information is database has at least been selected by editors. For periodical databases, the articles were printed first in an magazine, journal, or newspaper that had editors. Many database add value to the content by organizing it and by adding subjects.

In contrast, anyone can put up anything on the Web. Some of it is edited, selected, and monitored, but much of it is not. And the formats can vary widely so it is sometimes hard to know exactly what it is you have found. See also: Hoax Sites

Are there other databases that I can access elsewhere?

Yes, there are hundreds of available databases. Otis subscribes only to a small handful which should serve you well for most assignments. However, if you are eager to do more in-depth research, try going to the Los Angeles Public Library or Loyola Marymount Univerisity. See also: Other Los Angeles Libraries

Lastly, please keep in mind that not everything is available online. Books are still important sources for your research needs.

Image used by permission.

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