Skip to main content

Research Help: Databases

Databases at DWU

McGovern Library subscribes to many databases in a variety of subject areas. Knowing when and how to use these resources can be overwhelming and confusing for many students, but especially to those with little or no previous experience with research databases.You will need to login to access the library databases and e-books from off campus. Use your DWU network/Tigernet username and password

Databases Explained

What is a library database?

A library database is an electronic catalog, index, and digital warehouse of published materials. These materials most commonly include magazine, newspaper, and journal articles.  Often, other items such as books, videos, and audio files are included as well. 

Databases are highly organized and allow students to search for information on a topic by keyword, subject, author, title, and phrase. Most databases at DWU provide access to full-text content, which means that you will find entire articles available, not just summaries or citations of articles.

The majority of databases to which McGovern Library subscribes are available 24/7 and from on and off campus.

I already know how to use Google. Why Should I Use A Library Database?

Google and other search engines are important research tools that students will continue to use for many assignments. However, DWU instructors require that students use "scholarly" or "peer reviewed" sources.  Databases provide access to these types of resources.

Information found using Google must be evaluated carefully. You can find a lot of biased information and "fake news" using Google. Bad information can sometimes be found in library databases, because humans make mistakes. The good news is that when you use library databases you can be assured that the sources included in the database have been vetted already, so the information that you locate should be more accurate and reliable.

Databases vs. Google Scholar

There are some important differences between these two services.

  • Google Scholar frequently provides you with only a preview or summary of an article. This is not always evident. Ask a librarian if you are not certain. Databases can be set to retrieve only full text articles.
  • You may be prompted to pay for full access to the article in Google Scholar. Never do this! There is a good chance that you have free access to this already in a library database, or a librarian can help you retrieve it through other means. Ask a librarian if you need assistance!

My instructor said I cannot use Internet sources for my assignment. Does this include library databases?

Usually instructors mean that you cannot use sources found through a Google search, Wikipedia or random websites.  Databases use the Internet for access, but most articles in databases are not available through web searches. However, always verify with your instructor exactly what type of sources are acceptable. Trying to guess what they want you to use could hurt your grade.

Video Tutorial

What Are Databases and Why You Need Them -- This video was created by a student from Yavapai College.

© 2016 McGovern Library, Dakota Wesleyan University

Contact us: McGovern Library | Ph. 605.995.2618 | Fax 605.995.2893 | 1201 McGovern Avenue, Mitchell, SD 57301