Hi! I'm Sarah Clark, Access Services and Distance Learning Librarian at Stratton Taylor Library, talking to you today about searching the Library Databases. This tutorial can be paused, rewound and replayed as many times as necessary.
To access the library databases, open the web browser of your choice and go to the library home page, www.rsu.edu/library. Click the link that says databases, and then the A to Z List. RSU has nearly 100 full-text and citation databases covering every subject taught here, all of which are accessible both on-and off-campus. Simply click on the title of the database that looks the most useful to begin searching.
If you're off-campus, you will be asked to log in with the username and password that you use to access your RSU email and on-campus computer labs: for students that's SDfirstnamelastname, no spaces or capitals, and then your current password. If you have problems logging in, contact the helpdesk, firstname.lastname@example.org or 343-7538, and they'll get you sorted out.
For this tutorial, we're going to search in Academic Search Complete, which is a great general-purpose database that covers many subject areas. In addition, most of the search strategies you learn for this database will work in any of the databases you explore.
When I click on the academic search complete link (and log in if necessary), I am taken to the search screen. Just like in the catalog and ebooks tutorials, I'm going to do a search for all articles that discuss plagiarism. I could add more search terms, or select advanced search to narrow to specific fields like titles or subjects, but I'm going to start simple. it's always easier to narrow a set of results that are too big than it is to widen a search with zero results.
However, there are a few things I do want to do right off the bat to limit the types of results I get, so that I don't have to sort through a lot of things that I definitely won't be able to use for my assignment.
First, my professor has requested that I use only scholarly or peer reviewed journal articles for my paper. The terms scholarly and peer-reviewed are used interchangeably to describe journals that are written and edited by the leading experts in the field the journal covers, and are commonly used in fields like the humanities and sciences. In addition, Let's say I only want to get journal articles that have the PDF or HTML file available for immediate reading. To do that, I click the "full text" checkbox. One last thing—I'm only interested in recent research on my topic, so I'll limit my results to the last 5 years—which as of right now means only articles published from January, 2005 onward. You'll see that I can narrow my search in other areas, but for my search today, I'll leave those options as they are.
As you see, I still have a LOT of results to search through, even with the limits I selected. For an average 5 page undergraduate paper, a pool of 25-50 results is a good number to shoot for. That's enough that you have plenty of options from which you can pick out the best articles for your paper, but not so many that you wind up with information overload. Fortunately, the box on the left side of the screen suggests some terms found in some of the articles in the initial search that would be useful to narrow things down. By clicking on one of these terms, the last search you did automatically re-runs with the new term added, providing a smaller and more targeted set of results.
Let's take a look at one of the entries in the results list. To find out basic information about an article such as the authors, the journal in which it was published, and other bibliographic information, click on the title of the article. In most cases, there will also be an "abstract", which summarizes the article and may tell you more about whether or not this might be a good source. At the bottom of the page, you will see the persistent link, which you can select, copy, and paste into your works cited page so that you or your professor can easily return to this article. Finally, there is a link to the full text article at the bottom of the page, which you can click on and start reading.
Last but not least is the most important part of any database—the help page. This tutorial only covers the most basic search skills, and the help files found in EBSCO databases are a particularly good resource to learn how to create more complex searches, broaden or narrow your results, and use other advanced features. Of course, your librarian is also always happy to help!
I hope this tutorial has helped you understand the basics of using the library databases. For more information about this or any other library tool, please call, email, or instant message the library for assistance. Thanks, and we wish you well in your studies at RSU!