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The Research Process

What is a library database?

Library databases contain information from multiple sources.  These sources include scholarly journals, newspapers, conference papers, and magazines.  Databases are web-based and accessible through the library's website.  The majority of the library budget goes to paying for these databases, so that the Stevens community has access to quality resources for their research.

Google & Google Scholar are useful, but library databases are consistently more reliable and efficient.


Databases are more likely to contain the full text of articles.
- If you find an article through Google, you will most likely be asked to pay for it

Databases have advanced search features.
- You can choose to search only for scholarly sources
- You can limit your search to a specific time period, author, publication, or subject terms

Databases are either discipline-specific or multidisciplinary. 
For example, if you're searching for articles about economics & finance, you can search in specialized databases for that subject area.  Or, you can search in a database that covers many different academic subjects, from engineering to science to history to business.

Where are the databases?

All of the databases are listed alphabetically in the Online Resources A-Z List.

It can be challenging to decide which databases to use.  You can use the library Subject Guides to help you make these decisions.  These guides narrow down the list of databases to just those that are specific to your subject area.

How can I find the full text of articles?

"Full text" = the entire article

An article is "an essay or research report..published in a document that contains several such works. Examples of resources that contain articles include magazines, scholarly journals, newspapers, and encyclopedias."  [Definition from BYU Harold B. Lee Library:]

An article published in a scholarly journal usually has an abstract and a bibliography.

Abstract = a short summary of the article that usually appears at the beginning of the article

Bibliography = a compilation of citations/references to the articles, books, and other sources that were consulted in the process of writing the paper.

Citation/reference = the bibliographic information about a publication, including but not limited to: author, title of work, title of publication, volume, issue, date of publication, page numbers, publisher info.

Very often, you will be able to find and download the full text of the articles you want to read from the library databases.

The Full Text Finder tool helps you find out immediately whether or not a specific journal, magazine, or newspaper is available in full text in any of the library databases. 

Just type in the name of the publication and click search.

This saves you time and makes your research time more efficient.

What can I do if I can't find the full text of articles?

If the database does not contain the full text of an article you'd like to read, click on the "Search for Article" button to see if the article is available somewhere else (in another database). If not, you can get a PDF copy of the article through the S.C. Williams Library Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery Services.

Types of information sources

All of these information sources can be found online or in print, depending on how the publisher makes them available.  This list will help you understand the benefits of using each of these types of sources.


  • In-depth info on a specific topic
  • Scholarly books have bibliographies; follow up to check the info and find additional sources
  • Information can be dated.  Check the publication date.


Scholarly journals:

  • Scientific and technological discoveries are reported in detail in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Journal articles are reviewed & evaluated by other experts prior to acceptance
  • In-depth original research
  • Analysis of research
  • Overview of research
  • Cited sources/bibliographies/reference lists
  • Study narrow and specific subjects
  • Discipline-specific, technical jargon geared to scholars & students in the field


Conference papers:

  • Papers presented at a formal gathering of peers
  • Ground-breaking research
  • Papers later published in the conference proceedings



  • Current events info
  • Overview analyses of trends, issues
  • Primary source material
  • Product development, industry news, and company histories
  • Few or no cited sources


Popular magazines:

  • Brief information on diverse, broad general-interest topics
  • Entertainment, leisure reading
  • Little technical language or jargon
  • Not much in-depth info
  • Few or no cited sources
  • No bibliographies/reference lists


Encyclopedias and Handbooks:

  • Concise overviews of a variety of topics, which can be helpful if you are just beginning your research and need background information on your topic.



  • Lists of companies within an industry or according to certain criteria
  • Find specialists in an area that you’re researching