Welcome to the wonderful world of database searching! There is a lot of information here, so take your time, study the videos and tutorials, maybe take some notes, and then dive in and get your hands dirty. Even if you have lots of experience searching library databases, we are positive you will learn something new. You can get to our full list of databases with this button on Foley's home page:
TIP: Foley Library has over 260 databases and it can be difficult deciding which ones to use. Find an appropriate Research Guide to identify the recommended databases for your field of study or contact the library for advice on where to start or what database to try next!
What is a database, anyway?
In the context of a library, a database is usually a collection citations, abstracts, and full-text articles to which the library subscribes. Databases are expensive, but our subscriptions provide Gonzaga students, faculty and staff with free access to articles in academic journals, newspapers, trade publications and more. Most of these articles can't be found by searching the Internet. To learn more about databases, watch this video created by a student at Yavapai College.
Wondering what "peer review" means? Watch this video from the librarians at North Carolina State University.
You're ready to try a basic search! This video walks you through a search in an EBSCO database. Don't let the term " Advanced Search" scare you. It just means you have more options to design your search from the start.
"Advanced Database Use" section below contains more tips on improving your searching skills. Please take a look at Tips & Tricks and Subject Headings. The rest are optional for the purposes of this orientation, but you might find them helpful.
If you are searching for a particular article or journal, it would take forever to search every single database. There are ways of making that search easier. One of them is using Periodicals@Foley. You can use Periodicals@Foley to see if the library has a specific journal. You can also use it to look for a specific article from the information in a citation. Here's how:
When an article you want isn't available from one of Foley Library's resources, or, say, when you find an article in a web search but the publisher wants you to pay $35 to download it, the library's Interlibrary Loan department comes to the rescue!
There are two ways to order an article using Interlibrary Loan. The first is to click on the link to Check Gonzaga Libraries for Full Text Options that accompanies a citation in a database:
If we don't have the article in any other database, you'll see a link to request the article via interlibrary loan:
Click there to get to the sign-in page for Interlibrary Loan. Once you sign in, the system pre-fills a form with all the information needed to order the article.
Select your Needed Before date and your Department (Organizational Leadership, Religion, etc.) and Status (Graduate, Undergrad, etc.), then Submit the request.
What happens next? Our interlibrary loan department identifies a library that owns the journal and sends the request to them. That library scans the article into a PDF and, once it's uploaded to your ILL account, you get an email that the article is available. An uploaded ILL document is only available for 30 days or five views, whichever comes first, so it's a good idea to download the PDF right away! Oh, and even though the name of the service is interlibrary loan, articles are yours to keep. Books, on the other hand, do need to be returned . . . but you knew that already.
The other way to order an article requires a bit more effort, but it works just as well. Log in to ILL, click Create Request, and select the type of item you are requesting: Article, Book/Media, or Book Chapter. Fill in the form with as much information as you can and submit the request.
We can get almost any article requested through ILL. It is seamless, fast (but not instant), and free to you, so don't let that perfect article get away!
Google Scholar searches for scholarly content across the internet. It's easy to use, but you won't want to rely on it as your only source.
Log into your Gmail account when searching Google Scholar to use your settings.
PROS - Things Google Scholar is good for:
1. Google Scholar shows you how many times an article has been cited, and by whom. Just click "Cited by . . ." under the article abstract to see a list of every citation Google is able to retrieve.
Why is this useful? Well, you already know that looking at the list of references from a good article will help you find other useful articles on your topic. That's looking backward in time to articles and research that preceded the one you are reading. Looking at "Cited by..." in Google Scholar, allows you to look forward in time, to articles and research that followed the article and hopefully built upon it.
2. Google Scholar is great for getting a quick-n-dirty overview of a topic. We're all used to Google's keyword-heavy searching. Searching Google-style in Google Scholar is a great way to find relevant articles quickly, which can help you get a feel for the journals, terminology, and issues surrounding your subject of research. You can then use that knowledge to search more deeply in the library's subject-specific databases.
3. Google Scholar can find "gray literature," like conference proceedings or unpublished works, that are often not indexed in scholarly databases.
4. Google Scholar is good at helping you fill in missing information if all you have is a partial citation. Often Google's search algorithm can find the full citation for you.
CONS - Things Google Scholar is poor at:
1. Google Scholar cannot retrieve anything that is not available or cited on the surface internet. The majority of scholarly work is not on the surface internet. Anything behind a paywall — like a scholarly database — is invisible to Google.
2. Google Scholar has no subject headings and few ways to refine a search. This makes it more difficult to zoom in on just the right results.
3. Google Scholar has no way to search by discipline. Searching is almost entirely keyword based, and your keywords may apply to many disciplines.
3. Not everything Google Scholar finds is actually scholarly. Google's magic algorithm takes into account indicators like whether the article has been cited elsewhere, but at the end of the day it's just a guess.
4. Google Scholar isn't picky about the quality of the full-text it finds, so you need to be. One of our librarians found a great article using Google Scholar, but the PDF provided was an early version of the article, complete with editors marks!