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NYU Libraries Online Tutorials

Popular research & library tasks in short tutorials, with links to more help.

What Are Databases and Why Use Them?

NYU Libraries subscribes to 1,400+ databases -- accessible on the "Articles & Databases" page -- that provide articles in publications like newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals. This video explains how the databases are organized and how to choose one(s) relevant to your research topic.

This video has captions. For  a transcript go to the NYU Stream viewer: What are Databases?

Multidisciplinary Databases

Multidisciplinary databases are good for any topic and tend to include a variety of publications types, including news sources, general interest magazines, trade magazines, scholarly journals, and more.

This video has captions. For a transcript go to NYU Stream viewer: Multidisciplinary Databases.

Subject-Specific Databases

Subject-specific databases are focused and specialized, providing the most scholarly information available on a topic, such as articles featuring conceptual or theoretical analysis, empirical studies, case studies, systematic reviews, and other scholarly approaches. Other sources typically covered are conference papers, chapters from edited books, and theses.

This video has captions. For a transcript go to NYU Stream viewer: Subject-Specific Databases.

Tips for Searching Within Databases

When you search on your keywords within a database, it helps to provide an explicit, straightforward "search statement" using the tips shown here. 

Infographic illustrating three tips for searching within databases: put quotes around keyword phrases, use Boolean operators, and use truncation.

Text-based version of the above infographic:

This is a sample search statement:  "emotional intelligence" AND (success OR achieve*)

The statement contains three tips for searching within databases:  

  • Tip 1: Put quotes around  compound search terms. In this example, putting quotes around "emotional intelligence" directs the database to search for instances where these words appear adjacent to each other (also known as phrase searching).
  • Tip 2: Use Boolean operators between search terms.   Boolean algebra is a fundamental aspect of online searching.  Boolean operators (also known as logical operators) specify the relationship between search terms and the order of operations executed in the search. There are three Boolean operators:
    • AND narrows a search.  Both search terms will be present in search results.
    • OR broadens a search.  Either or both search terms will be present in search results. Use this operator when you want to supplement a search term with one or more synonyms that convey the same concept.  Always enclose OR search terms in parenthesis, which instructs the database to perform this operation first.  Without the parenthesis, the operation will be performed last, which will result in inaccurate search results.
    • NOT eliminates any results where the search term is present.
  • Tip 3: Consider using truncation. When you truncate a word, you prompt the database to find all variant endings of a word stem. Otherwise, the database searches for the literal, exact search term you entered, letter for letter. (Note that the database will automatically find the plural, so no need to use truncation just for that.) In most databases the truncation symbol is an asterisk (*).  
    • In the example above, we truncated the word stem achiev* so that -- in addition to finding “achieve” and “achieves” -- the database will also find “achieving,” “achievement,” and “achievements.”

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a useful tool for finding articles. View this video to learn more.

This video has captions. For a transcript go to NYU Stream View: Google Scholar.