– – – SO MANY DATABASES … – – –
– – – WHICH ONE AM I SUPPOSED TO USE? – – –
“Libraries are simple. I can figure this out all by myself.
Wait — How do I get to the library website? And where are the databases I’m supposed to use?
I thought there was only one university research database. Just how many databases ARE there? Which one am I supposed to use?
I don’t know what to do, or where to look or who to ask. If I ask for help, will they think I’m stupid? I don’t want anyone to think I’m stupid.
I’ll just use Google . . .
This is a common reaction by new students beginning their first research paper at university.
If it’s been a while since they visited their local public library, they may not be aware of the vast changes in how libraries collect, store, index, and provide access to information. Or they may not be aware of the very real and immediate need to ask a librarian for assistance when faced with so many options.
It is often assumed that all libraries are identical. They aren’t familiar with the specialized services an academic library provides to students and faculty researchers.
Plus they are often overwhelmed by the technology involved in using library resources — such as databases — resources which index and provide access to such varied sources of information as books, ebooks, scholarly journal articles, or even statistical data.
Few expect to find over 1,000 subscription service databases available to them.
Selecting the specific database they need to begin a research project is the first major hurdle students face. Frustration often drives them to return to their old friend, Google, when they don’t know how to find or use Library resources. Google is not a reliable source of scholarly, or even accurate, information. This helps no one.
The data libraries provide as part of their standard service today cannot be matched by search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Search engines can only access materials that are available for free through open access on the internet. Any service, such as newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals or data services that require a subscription to get access are not available to any search engine. They are blocked from these resources, the very materials to of greatest value to researchers.
These are the very services that libraries DO provide.
As an example of the extent of this problem, Google can only provide access to approximately 17% to 25% of the resources an academic library makes available to its researchers. Worse — Google can only provide that much because a small portion of what libraries offer IS open source materials.
Think Google Scholar is able to get around that? Nope. Google Scholar simply re-directs it’s student users back to their own library, but without the ability to use multiple index search words, or limiters that allow users to select for things such as full text articles, peer-reviewed articles, or articles published in English language (all actual limiters available in most library databases).
Check the settings options in Google Scholar, and select for Libraries to see where it is redirecting.
Libraries organize a wide variety of online resources, including such things as useful statistical or data which governments and organization sites (that don’t require subscriptions) provide and are freely available for online access and use by anyone.
But Google can’t get at the scholarly journal or other databases the library pays for through its annual subscription The databases and other resources provided by the Library are far better choices to find and use research materials.
But — with over 1,000 current subscription databases available through Thompson Library, how does a researcher find which databases to use for any given research project or question?
That very dilemma is the reason Thompson Library uses —
The LibGuides help our librarians create a selection of Guides for specific areas of study (as well as for specific courses, or topics of interest, when needed).
For each teaching department on our UM-Flint campus, our librarians have created a general Guide that organizes all databases of use to a researcher within that discipline.
Each Guide offers tabs to different pages that further organize the resources needed by researchers.
And in many cases, several specialized Guides are created within a discipline that focus on those resources useful to a specialized branch of study.
Let’s look at some examples of Guides and how to find them.
FINDING the Guides:
To find a LibGuide for any of the major subject areas at UM-Flint, a researcher must navigate first to the Thompson Library website.
Find Thompson Library Website:
From UM-Flint page, use top toolbar for ACADEMICS; the drop-down options include LIBRARY. Use the “click here” option to navigate to the Thompson Library website.
Scroll down the library website; find the box in the center of the page labeled, “NEED HELP GETTING STARTED?“
Within that box, click on the option for:
This page presents an alphabetical list of the major discipline LibGuides. Scroll down the list to find the one you need. Click to open.
Each Guide starts with an OVERVIEW page. This page lists the librarian who created the Guide and how to contact them on the far right of the screen. The center of the Guide will offer links a short list of the most frequently used databases.
Along the lower left may be a list of related Guides that could prove useful to your search.
Each Guide has a tab-list of pages within the Guide along the far left side.
Each page provides links to library resources (databases, books, etc) as indicated on the tab.
Let’s look at a Guide.
From the alphabetic list of subject Guides, let’s select NURSING.
Click on the Guide for Nursing, found in the alphabetic list.
The landing / OVERVIEW page tells you this Guide was created by librarian Laura Friesen and provides her office address, office phone number, and email. It gives a few “quick links” back to useful Library information, such as the hours the Library is open. It also provides a link to the CHAT feature.
CHAT is a real-time way to ask a librarian for help. Click CHAT to type your question and have an online discussion with a librarian. This is a great way to get a quick answer to a simple question.
Under the center FREQUENTLY USED DATABASES is a short list of those databases used most often by students and instructors in the Nursing Program at UM-Flint.
Each database includes the name of that database as a clickable link, and below the name, a brief description of what kind of information is found within that particular database.
DO NOT assume that the short list of databases found on the Overview page is all the library offers for researchers in this subject. Nope. Check the tabs on the left and look for an A-Z List of Databases; click to open.
The A-Z list in the Nursing Guide is not a list of all Library databases. It IS a list of all databases useful to those researching topics in the field of Nursing and Medicine — a great way to narrow down the over 1000 databases the Library offers to just those useful in THIS, the current research project.
It is wise to remember that they are NOT listed by usefulness or relevance, but simply alphabetically.
Choosing the first database in a list may not be a good way to select a database. Check the description found below every database link to understand the contents of that particular database. With that information, it is easier to determine which database is more likely to provide the information sought by the researcher.
Do not, for example, use a database that lists and describes current drugs (such as the Merck Index Online) when searching for an index to journal articles. For journal articles, a better database choice may be Nursing & Allied Health or CINAHL.
Some Guides will offer additional tabs to group a large list of databases by narrower topics. Look for those to help you narrow down which database to use.
So you select a NURSING database, say the one named CINAHL,but find it a bit confusing to use. To make it easier to figure out, the Library included a tab in this Guide with short videos that explain how to use some of the databases found in this Guide.
Click the tab for HELP VIDEOS and select the one for How to Use CINAHL.
This video walks a new user through how to find, open, and use the CINAHL database both effectively and efficiently.
When the current research project is finished and the research paper written, there’s even help from the Library Guides for doing a References page.
Find the tab for APA STYLE, again, from the Page list on the far left side of each library Guide, for assistance.
Each subject Guide will vary a little based on the type of information is needed for that particular subject and the resources available through the library in that discipline. But the basic organization of each Guide is similar. Learn one and have no problem using the others.
But that’s not all. There are additional Guides to help for other research projects as well. Want to learn about The Flint Water Crisis? We have a Guide for that! It organizes a wide variety off resources available to a researcher, including print and online sources of background information about the Flint and what happened.
But that Guide is NOT in the list by subject we just looked at. The “extra” Guides can be found using the FULL List of Guides.
The link to the FULL LIST of Library Guides can be found on the far left of the Thompson Library website, directly under the “Frequently Asked Questions.”
The List defaults to a “major categories” list, but by clicking either of the other options at the top, a user can change to ALL GUIDES to see the complete list, or OWNER, to see all those Guides created by any one of our librarians.
Or, if the exact title of a Guide is known (such as The Flint Water Crisis), that can by entered into the search box to zero in on a single Guide quickly.
– There are plenty of options to find and use any of the Guides.
– Using the Guides is easy as they are all organized similarly.
– The Guides are extremely useful because they organize links to databases and online documents needed to research a specific subject.
– The Guides make finding and using a database — and other resources — much easier.
– In short, the best way to begin any research project at the Thompson Library of University of Michigan-Flint is to start with the Guides.
Choose a Guide based on the type of subject to be researched. Browse through the contents of a Guide to select a database (resource) to use.
Get to the best resource for each search faster and with less effort. Get the research started and completed quickly.
Subject Guides — Helping UM-Flint researchers find and use the best library database (or other resource) to meet their needs quickly.
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Need more help?
Don’t forget the BEST resource in any library are it’s librarians!
If you are a UM-Flint student, staff, or faculty, this is where you find help with your research needs.
Contact a UM-Flint Thompson Library LIBRARIAN for help.
Reference Desk: 810 / 762-3408
Live Chat: CHAT