eResources: finding the right database

eResources: finding the right database
Making access simple
10 December 2015

After having read our earlier blog on eResources: getting started, you are now ready to find the best database for your research.

The National Library subscribes to over 300 databases across a range of subject areas. For the new researcher it can be difficult to determine which one is the most suitable. So, where to start? Here are some FAQs to get you on your way.Ruby Gostelow using lap top computer

Philip Gostelow (1962–), Ruby Gostelow using lap top computer in her dad's home office, playing a Barbie as Cinderella game on CD, Woodford, New South Wales  2002,  nla.obj-148519482

You have a lot of databases and I am not sure where to begin my research

You may be best to start with one of the larger multidisciplinary databases such as Academic Search Complete or Masterfile Premier.

If your research is focussed on Australia, try some of the databases from Informit such as APAFT (Australian Public Affairs Full Text) or the Australia New Zealand Reference Centre from Ebsco.

I know my area of research, how do I find what databases you have on my subject?

Our eResources are assigned broad subject categories, so you can use the 'Browse by category' facility on the eResources home page to find relevant databases in your particular subject area.

For example, if you are looking for databases covering Australian literature, select the 'Arts and Humanities' category and then the sub-category 'Literature'.  Here are listed a number of relevant databases including Austlit, Australian Book Review Online, Informit Literature and Culture Collection and The Source (for Australian children's literature).

Literature category eResources

I am searching a database which is right for my subject area but I still can't find relevant articles 

If available try using the list of Subject Terms (or thesaurus) as this will help you focus your search. It will alphabetically list the subject terms used in the database as well as showing similar terms, broader terms and narrower terms.

Although you can search using keywords, using approved subject headings allows you to narrow your search to the most relevant information.

Also, don't be afraid to use the 'Help' which is available for each database. There is a lot of useful information here to improve your searching and your results.

Man looking for golf ball

Fairfax Corporation, Man searching for a golf ball during a game, New South Wales, 7 September 1932, nla.obj-161983161

I know the journal I want, how do I know which database to use to find it?

Many of the journal titles contained in our online databases have catalogue records, so the first place to look is our online catalogue.

Once you have found the title you want check to see that it is available online. You can tell this from the catalogue:

Click on the title to get the full catalogue record and check online availability. In this case it is available from both JSTOR and the Australia New Zealand Reference Centre, but only for certain years:

Australian journal of politics and history online access

If the issue you want is held online, click on the blue 'Online Access' link in the catalogue record to access the material. Remember, different services may provide different years online so read this information carefully.

If the issue you want falls outside the span of years available online, check the catalogue again to find the record for the printed material.  After you have checked the printed holdings and verified that we do hold the issue you want, use your Library card to request the issue and read it onsite at the National Library.

I can't find the title I want in an online database. What do I do now?

Although we have a lot of databases, it is possible that none of them contain the journal, book or newspaper you really want for your research.

If you can't find it in a database, check our online catalogue. We could hold the title in print or some other non-online format eg. microform.

I think I have found everything I need for my research. Is there anywhere else I could look?

If this is the case you may want to look at our Research Guides which are put together by our very knowledgeable librarians. These Research Guides are on particular topics and include information on material held by us in different formats available across all our collections. Some of the material mentioned you may not have thought to look at so why not take a look at them? Topics include League of Nations, Australian politics and government, Australian literature and British Parliamentary publications.  

You may also want to take a look at Trove for material not held at the National Library.

After reading this useful information I still can't find any information on my topic. 

Don’t worry. Ask a Librarian.

"I can't find the title I want in an online database. What do I do now?" I suggest you search on Google using the title of the article in quotations. In these days of Open Access you may have success - this also works with book chapters and conference papers.