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VSC262 Research Skills Guide: What is a journal database

Guide for VSC262 Veterinary Reproduction

Journal databases

In most essays and assignments, and certainly in literature reviews, you are expected to locate relevant scholarly journal articles.

You can search for journal articles in Primo Search, but you can also search for journal articles on a topic in a journal database, or package of databases.

You can access online journal databases in a number of ways. The main way is via the Library’s Journal Databases webpage, where you can browse by database title, or by subject category:

In VSC262, the subject category you choose might depend on your topic. You might use the Animal & Vet Sciences list although you could also use the Agriculture & Wine Science.

If you know the name of the database, or database platform (see below) you wish to search then you can use the Browse by Title alphabetical list.

What is the difference between a database and a database platform?

A DATABASE is an organised collection of information records that can be accessed electronically. In the Library this includes databases which have:

  • journal article (and other) citations, where there is no full-text;
  • journal article (and other) citations, where all records have the full-text attached;
  • a mixture of the first two above (this is the most common);
  • other types of records, eg. videos, images, or listings of people or companies.

A DATABASE PLATFORM is a company which provides access to a number of databases, via a search interface unique to that company, where the databases can be searched/browsed individually or together.

The 4 main database platforms, and examples of databases they contain:

Platform Database
  • CAB Abstracts
  • Medline
  • Scopus database
Web of Science
  • Web of Science Core Collection
  • Current Contents Connect
  • ProQuest Science Journals
  • ProQuest SciTech Collection

It is important to realise that, once you are in one of the database platforms, you can search across a number of databases at the same time. In some cases, the Library provides a package of subject-related databases that are in the same platform.

Searching in a database

Want to learn more about journal databases?

  • The Library holds a series of Online Library Workshops, some of these focus on journal database searching. 
  • We also have a Databases Help guide that contains a wealth of information on using journal databases. 

Full text

Sometimes you will read that a database is 'full text', or that an article can be found in 'full text'. 'Full text' means that the entire document is available online. When a database carries an article in full text there will be a hyperlink to view it as either a PDF or html document. Not all journal databases contain full text.

If an article is not available in full text you may be able to locate it in another database. Clicking on the Find itbutton will allow you to check if the article is available elsewhere. 

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