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Research 101: What are Databases?

A guide on how to conduct academic research.

What are databases?

A database is a collection of organized and stored information designed for search and retrieval.  Databases come in various forms and can be used for different applications. 

Libraries typically subscribe to research databases.  Research databases are electronic platforms that contain a collection of electronic information that is searchable and, in most cases, retrievable in full-text format.  Specifically, they encompass articles from periodicals like academic journals, newspapers, magazines, and trade publications. 

General vs. Specialized

In most cases, databases can be categorized in two ways: general or specialized.

General databases cover a wide range of academic disciplines by means of indexing many source types, including articles from academic/scholarly journals, newspapers, magazines, trade publications, and reports. 

Specialized databases usually contain various types of information that deal with a specific field of study.