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How to Use Moffett Library Databases: Introduction

This guide will offer tips and tricks on how to search and use the library databases.

Introduction to Databases

Video credit to University of Minnesota Libraries


What is a database?

Databases are an online collection of searchable information. Library databases contain materials such as:

  • scholarly peer-reviewed articles
  • newspaper articles
  • trade publications
  • book reviews
  • magazine articles
  • dissertations/theses
  • educational and theatrical films
  • ebooks

Why should I use a database?

While Google is a familiar and easy search engine, it is not recommend for academic research. The resources found through a Google search are often only available via a subscription or one-time fee. The resources found in library databases are already paid for by subscription and have been vetted by library staff to ensure their high quality. 

Moffett Library currently subscribes to over 150 databases to serve all academic disciplines.


How do I access the databases?

If you have a database already in mind, you can access the databases directly through the A-Z Database List or via our Subject Research Guides.
If you are just starting your research and are unfamiliar with the databases, you may also begin your search via the library catalog




Choosing the Right Database

Choosing the right database for your research topic can be overwhelming. To help narrow down a list of potential databases, we highly suggest you employ search by Subjects tools. See the images below for more information. 

Method One: Employ the Subject drop-down list on the A-Z Database page.

Method Two: Select the appropriate Subject Guide

Databases vs. Indexes

While most of our databases contain full-text materials, some are solely indexes for various subjects. Indexes contain citations for materials, whose full-text is not available through the database. Listed below are examples of these various types of databases currently available from Moffett Library. 

Common Full-Text Databases Common Index-Only Databases Common Mixed Databases


  • If you find an article without full-text availability, you may still be able to get access to the article through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). 
  • ILL is a free service offered to faculty, staff, and students that can submit requests for materials not held by the library to other participating libraries. After you submit a request, an article is usually delivered within a week's time. 
  • For more information regarding ILL, please refer to the Interlibrary Loan Research Guide

Using Multidisciplinary Databases

While it may be simple to recognize that MedOne Radiology is a good fit for your radiology paper, not all subjects have easily recognized databases. "Multidisciplinary" databases cover a large cross section of subjects and can provide information materials to many. Below is a quick snippet of the multidisciplinary databases most commonly used. 

Database Contents Pros Cons
Academic Search Complete
  • mix of academic, popular, and news articles
  • mix of full-text and citation only
  • wide breadth of subjects
  • detailed subject headings
  • great database to start your research project with
  • lack of depth
Nexis Uni
  • biographical info
  • news, both newspapers and broadcast transcripts
  • legal reviews and publications
  • full-text searching available
  • great source for business, legal, medical news, and reference information
  • all full-text
  • difficult interface to navigate
  • newspaper coverage can be irregular
  • easy to get overwhelmed with how much information is available
  • journals related to behavioral & social sciences, health & life sciences, and physical sciences
  • full-text and citation only 
  • contains most popular science related titles
  • journal titles only available from 1995-present.
  • journals related to art, humanities, business, and science
  • full-text available
  • strong archive for most journals
  • full-text searching available
  • subject searching available
  • lacks most recent journal issues
  • 3-5 year journal embargo
  • poor search interface


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Credit to High Point University Libraries for inspiration for this guide ( 

Credit to University of California LA Libraries for inspiration for this guide (

Credit to Colby University Library for inspiration for this guide (