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First Year Composition - Research Guide

What is an academic database?

A database is a collection of information that is organized so that it can be easily searched and accessed.

Google makes and relies on databases in index and search the internet; neuroscience professors use databases to keep track of experiment conditions and results; and libraries make and provide access to databases of information sources.  When you use the catalog, Google, or Jstor, you are using a database.

The library subscribes to many academic databases. These databases provide access to journals, books, letters, newspapers, photographs, manuscripts, drawings, statistical data, business information, and much more. Two advantages of academic databases are that they give you access to research on a topic, which is often not available on the open web, and you can easily find out and say where the materials in them come from (AKA cite them). 

To find databases at Emory, go to

Types of Academic Databases

Databases have different kinds of holdings and structures. Under the narrow by subject tab, you can choose types of materials or academic disciplines.

Types of materials

  • Academic Journals
  • Newspapers
  • Data
  • Historical Documents
  • Mixed

Research Fields

  • Disciplinary - have materials on a particular subject or field, like Anthropology, nineteenth century legal affairs, or Medical Sciences
  • Multidisicplinary - include materials from many subjects

Search Structure

  • Full Text
    • Have complete articles and books in them
    • Usually search all of the words in the articles and books
  • Indexed
    • Use metadata - information about the article - rather than the text of the article to retrieve results.
    • May links to the full text of articles; or use FindIt buttons; or require you to use the citation and look up the text.