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HCS519 Research Skills Guide: Journal Databases

Which database should I choose?

Charles Sturt University Library has a databases page from which you can gain access to most of the Library's databases.

Locate databases alphabetically or by selecting the a discipline.

Given you are studying social work, you will probably spend most of your time in the Humanities, Social Work & Human Services databases, but take note of any other areas that may be of interest to you, such as the Psychology, Allied Health, and Indigenous Studies databases.

Keep in mind that if you choose a database and then don't find any information in it, you can always revise your search, go back to the list and pick another database, or contact Charles Sturt University Library for assistance.

Journal Database Search Strategies

When you go into a journal database you will notice that many of them feature multiple search boxes that are stacked one above the other in rows.

While they may look intimidating, they can make your search process easier.

Think of each row as a train of thought. For example, if you were searching for an article about the abuse of children in foster care, you could use a new row for each element of your topic. In this case you might search for:

1st search row: "foster care"
2nd search row: child* OR youth
3rd search row: abuse

You'll notice we have used some search tips in the search above. Check out the Search page for a listing of these tips. 

Tip: If you want to learn more about how to maximise your search using search strategies, contact the Library. We can assist you in creating an effective search strategy.

Proximity Searching

A proximity search forces a database to find results where one search term appears within a certain number of words of another search term. The proximity operator varies according to the database. 

Examples from an EBSCOhost database:  

employability N3 higher education  (N=near) This will find results where employability is within 3 words of higher education in any order

employability W3 higher education (W=within) This will find results where employability is within 3 words of higher education  in the order in which you entered the search terms

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. 

journal articles & library databases

How do I search in databases?

Take a look at the videos below for a demonstration of how to search within EBSCOhost and ProQuest databases.

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.