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Database Frequently Asked Questions

What is a database?

Strictly speaking, a database is a searchable, organized collection of data. Most of the databases Brandon University provides access to are made up of records of journal articles. Some databases have records for conference papers, books or magazine articles. The contents of each database are included in the description of the database.

What’s the difference between a library catalog and a database?

Library Catalogs contain records about the books, the videos, the recordings, the curriculum materials and the journals in the library. However, the records in the library catalog only have limited information about the journal and nothing about the articles in the journal. To find these articles, you should use a database.

What is a full-text database?

If some of the records in a database contain the full text of the articles, which can be viewed on and printed from your computer, then the database is a full-text database. Not all records in a full-text database will have the full-text of the article.

Can’t I find these articles on the web with a Google search?

It is possible that you could find the articles, especially on Google Scholar. Some of what is found on these databases is not available for free. The library buys a license for these databases so students and faculty can access them.

Which database should I use?

That depends on what you’re looking for. Really. It is often a good idea to start with EBSCOhost: Academic Search Full-Text Premier because it has a wide variety of articles. But its coverage of scholarly articles in a subject isn’t nearly as large as a subject specific databases. If you’re having trouble getting started searching databases, come see us at the library information desk.

Why are there so many databases?

Because there is so much information. There is no one database that is going to cover all the resources in the library, much less all the resources in the world.

If I see a citation for an article, does that mean the library has the journal with that article?

Not necessarily. We may have the journal, but there are many more journals in the world than the ones we have.

How can I find out if the library has a journal?

In EbscoHost, there will be a line saying if we have the journal or not. In other databases, you will have to check the complete listing of the journals the library has in print and has electronic access to – Journals List.

Be sure to check if the date of the article you want falls within the dates listed for that journal. One technique we use in the library is to have two browser windows open –
one to search the database and the other to look at the journals list.

What happens if the library doesn’t have the article I want?

Then we can get it for you through Interlibrary Loans.

What is the difference between a journal and a magazine?

“Journal” is library shorthand for “Scholarly Journal”. An article in a scholarly journal represents the research that scholar has undertaken. An article in a magazine isn’t usually written by a scholar and may or may not represent original research.

Do all databases search the same way?

The basics of searching remain the same for all databases, but each database has its own quirks. It is always worthwhile to check the database’s help screens to see what those quirks are.

The online journal site is asking me for a password. What’s the password?

Online journal sites routinely ask for passwords when you try to access material outside of our agreements with the publishers. I wish these sites explained that clearly, but they don’t.
The only password the library has is the one for off-campus EbscoHost use.