- What is a database?
- What are databases for? Whats in a database?
- How do I access a Westland database away from the library?
- How do I know which database to use?
- What is full-text?
- What is a citation? What does bibliographic citation mean?
- What is an abstract?
- Why isn't everything in full-text?
Q: What is a database?
A: A Research Database is an online tool for searching periodical or reference literature. Databases are the modern equivalent of the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. Although they are often accessed over the Internet, they are not websites -- libraries and other institutions pay to provide them to their patrons. This means that you usually can use the articles you find in our databases for your school papers.
Q: What are databases for? What's in a database?
A: Most databases are used to search for articles from periodicals (magazines, journals, newspapers). Some index the contents of books and encyclopedias (like World Almanacs or Literature Resource Center). Some have special functions (i.e. Novelist, which helps readers find fiction, or Learning Express Library, which lets users take practice exams).
Q: How do I access a Westland database away from the library?
A: All databases that are available for remote access are followed by a link that with an image of a home. After you click that link you will be prompted to type in your Westland library card number, which will lead you to the database you selected. All Westland residents with a valid library card should be able to access the databases with home access links when they're away from the library.
Q: How do I know which database to use?
A: Short content descriptions accompany the database links on our databases by subject page.
Q: What is full-text?
A: Full-text articles provide, word for word, what you’ll find in a print copy of a magazine, newspaper, or reference book. In many cases full-text articles will also contain images and charts and may even be available as Adobe Acrobat copies of the original print source.
Q: What is a citation? What does bibliographic citation mean?
A: A bibliographic citation offers information about the article - title, author, publication date, etc. - but does not present the article itself. These types of articles are typically only available in academic libraries. The database you're using should indicate whether or not academic libraries in your area (e.g. Wayne State University, U of M, etc.) own a copy of the journal title you're looking for.
Q: What is an abstract?
A: An abstract is a condensed version of a longer piece of writing that highlights the major points covered, concisely describes the content and scope of the writing, and reviews the writing's contents in abbreviated form. Abstracts allow a researcher to determine whether or not they would want to read the full length article (whether its available full-text online or you have to visit a library that has the physical edition available).
Q: Why isn't everything in full-text?
A: Older articles are less likely to be available in full-text - digitization often proves prohibitively expensive for publishers and database companies. Questions of copyright and licensing may also prevent full-text availability.
If you have any questions about our Research Databases, please don't hesitate to ask our Reference Librarians, at the Reference Desk or on the phone (734-326-6123).
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