This week’s workshop was all about academic database searching. We subscribe to a stack of excellent databases in the library, so it’s super easy for you to find great sources and information for assignments with just the click of a button.
What About Google?
When you use google, you are accessing only 1% of the content on the world wide web.
Not only is the amount of information limited, but also the quality, as many of the results are opinions, biased or self-published.
The Invisible Web
Parts of the web that can’t be accessed by search engines like Google are known as the ‘invisible web’, ‘deep web’, or ‘hidden web’.
‘Googlebot’ is Google’s web-crawling bot also known as a ‘spider’ or ‘crawler’. Googlebot discovers web pages and indexes them so they appear in your search. Most search engines have their own crawlers. However, these crawlers won’t index particular web sites, due to several reasons:
- If the web page is dynamically assembled from an online database
- If the bot intentionally skips the web page
- If the web page is password-protected
- If there are non-HTML resources like images, audio, animation and PDF files
Scholarly journals and databases often require a paid subscription, so search engines like Google can’t access this information. Resources found in paid databases are usually of a very high quality and are often peer-reviewed, meaning the work is reviewed by other experts in the field.
Searching The Database
In the Library Senior Canvas page, click on ‘ERESOURCES’. This will take you to the Library Intranet, where all the databases are listed, and you can choose the database you want to search.
Use Boolean Search Terms
Google automatically puts a secret “AND” between your search terms, but in a database you need to put them in yourself, or it won’t know to look for these words together.
If you’re searching for ‘environmental sustainability statistics’, type ‘environmental AND sustainability AND statistics’.
Use OR to narrow down searches, for example ‘New South Wales OR NSW’
Use NOT when you want to exclude a term from your search, for example ‘climate change NOT global warming’.
When typing in a keyword, you can use the asterisk * symbol as a truncator. This lets you search all the different ways a word might appear in the database.
For example, if you type ‘environ*‘, the database will retrieve environs, environment, environmental, etc.
A wildcard symbol ? replaces a letter within your keyword.
For example, behavi?r will retrieve behaviour and behavior.
(Wildcard and truncation symbols vary between each database, so make sure to check the ‘Help’ sections).
Now you are ready to dive into databases!
Got a question? Ask a librarian!