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What is a database? | Why use a database for research? | Limitations
A-Z list of databases | Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

What is a database?

A database is an online holding vessel for periodicals that have been digitized. Articles from print periodicals are either digitized as a PDF or entered as html text and then indexed according to title, article title, author(s), volume, issue and date. Databases contain thousands of periodical titles, including popular magazines, newspapers and research journals. Podcasts, videos and images are also searchable in some databases.

Why use a database for research?

If you limit your search to "scholarly articles only" or "peer-reviewed," databases give access to quality research sources for writing academic papers. If you do not use limiters in your search, know that search results will include newspaper and popular magazine articles (i.e. NOT peer-reviewed).

Database limitations

Be aware that there is often an embargo, or delay, in the publishing of full text content in databases. If you are having trouble accessing the full text of an article published in the past year, please consult the interlibrary loans page for details on how to place an ILL request.

Also be aware that not all content in databases is full text. You will come across periodicals in databases that have only their bibliographic information indexed. Often times, full text of the article can be found in other databases; however, be sure to limit your search to "full text" if you would like to avoid this.

Did you find the perfect article on Google Scholar but aren't sure if Quest subscribes to the journal? Instead of checking through all of our databases, search by journal title at UBC Library to see which database contains the journal. Cross-reference with our list of databases.


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