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Library Resources for Online Students: Using Databases

A guide to library resources for distance learners.

Introduction to Databases Video

Watch this 5 minute video tutorial to learn what you can find in a library database and how to search it:

Off Campus Access

To  access databases available through the NYU Libraries website, use your NYU NetID and password. 

More information about logging in.


Finding Databases

There are many databases to  choose from—how do you select the most appropriate for your area of interest? There are several ways. On the library home page simply click Articles and Databases, Then Search databases by subject and content typeand choose your area of interest from the drop down menu or you can click Databases A_Z to see a complete alphabetical listing.

Another way, one that provides more comprehensive information overall, is to make use of the Subject Guides. These guides are prepared by the librarians to help you find the best resources for major subject areas at NYU-Poly. You can access them from the library home page by clicking the Bern Dibner Research Guides , and choosing your area of interest:

Finding Full Text

Not all databases will provide you a direct link to the full text of an article. When you see this icon, the database is enabled with SFX, an article linker that connects citations with full text.

When you come across a button that looks like  , click it for a menu of options to get full text. You may be required to enter your NYU NetID and password to follow the link to the full text.  

Database Types

Here is a general breakdown of the types of databases available:

  • Scholarly Journal Publishers:
    These databases allow you to search for, and often retrieve, the full text of scholarly and peer-reviewed articles that appear in journals from a major scholarly publishers. Examples include the American Chemical Society and IEEE Xplore.
  • General Databases:
    Use these databases to get a good sense of what has been published on your topic. They provide access to many types of publications including magazines, journals, and newspapers from many different publishers on all subject areas. The four database portals (they include sub databases) available via Dibner Library are ProQuest, EBSCOhost, Gale Group, and Lexis Nexis Academic
  • E-book Collections:
    Search and read full text e-books online using these databases. Some, like Books24x7 and Access Engineering only contain e-books. Other databases, like ScienceDirect and Springer Link contain a variety of formats, but you can limit your search to only include e-books.
  • Indexes and Abstracts: 
    These databases will not provide full text, but they are powerful tools for finding a vast range of scholarly journal citations on your topic. Features include the ability to find all the works of a particular author, articles that author has cited, and articles that have cited that author. The two major ones are Scopus and Web of Science (ISI Web of Knowledge). You can find a longer list on Indexes and Abstracts box on the bottom of this page.

Database Searching

Most databases start you out on a Basic Search page where you can type keywords into a search box:


 If you look around, you will find an Advanced Search option that allows you to combine multiple keywords, and change the "fields" (part of the item record) you are searching:

Indexes and Abstracts

Indexes and Abstracts generally do not provide full text, but some offer very useful citation searching features.