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Literature Review & Research Skills Guide: Use Journal Databases

Choosing a database

A journal database is an organised collection of information records that can be accessed electronically.

While you may use a variety of source types in your literature review and/or research report, you will find scholarly journal articles form an important part of your research, which is why it is important for you to feel confident when searching journal databases.


An information record in a journal database can contain:

  • Reference details (such as author, date of publication, title, etc);
  • Details describing the publication (such as a summary, contents, abstract, or subject area);
  • Information about its veracity (such as whether it has been peer-reviewed, or its citation count); and
  • A link to the full text (i.e.: to a copy of the document the record is about).

Databases often cover specific subject areas and the Library has grouped its databases into subject areas for your convenience. You can find the Library's databases on the A-Z Databases page. Browse these databases by title, discipline or vendor.

In this guide we will look at the Education & Teaching databases, but you may find that there are databases in other disciplines that are relevant to your research, depending on your topic.

Your lecturer particularly recommends the Springer, SAGE and Informit databases, all of which can be located in the Education & Training databases list (and are linked to below).

Other notable databases include the EBSCOhost Education Research Complete database and the ProQuest Theses & Dissertations database.

Saving searches and creating alerts

Most databases provide the option to save your searches and set up alerts to help you keep up to date with the latest research. To do this you will need to create an account within a database which is separate from your Charles Sturt University login.

  • A search alert will be sent to you after you have saved a database search that you run periodically.
  • A table of contents (ToC) alert will allow you to receive the table of contents lists for selected recent journal issues.

To find out how to set this up within different databases see the Library's Keep up to date with the literature website.

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. 

Searching in a database