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How to Choose and Use Databases

Search skills that help you find what you're looking for.

Full-Text vs. Citation

While some databases are actual collections of pure full-text content, others contain a mix of citations to articles or other materials AND full-text, while others contain pure citations.

Those databases containing just citations to the materials are called indexes.  Index/​citation databases help you discover and identify useful articles for your topic... but then you still have to actually find the materials. 

Knowing which type of database you're using helps you know what to expect in terms of finding full text. It will also influence your search techniques.

Full-Text  Databases

Index-Only Databases

Mixed Databases

  • Access World News
  • WorldCat
  • LVC Catalog
  • Academic Search Complete
  • MEDLINE Complete
  • Most of LVC's databases

Important Tip

Do not limit yourself to full-text databases!

  1. The articles you discover in a citation-only database may actually be online. Just click on the Looking for Full-Text? link to find them.
  2. Many of the "offline" articles may be available in print journals held by the library.
  3. Even if LVC doesn't have an article online or in print, you can usually get a copy scanned and e-mailed to you in a few days via interlibrary loan.  Do that with the Looking for Full-Text link, then click on the Get It link.