Skip to Main Content
Research Guides

WRIT 136: Staging Science

Intro to Library Databases

What is a database?

Databases are resources that contain information that is organized to make it easier to search and access.

The most common kind of library databases contain articles from academic journals and other publications, but there are many kinds of databases--databases for images, videos, data, news, and many other kinds of sources!

Why should I use a library database?

    Not everything can be found in SuperSearch! Articles and books in some databases don't show up in SuperSearch.  
  • Databases are often specialized by subject area (such as history, sociology, art, film/media studies, psychology, etc.).
    • Searching in subject-specific databases focuses your search and helps you find more relevant sources. 
    • Subject-specific databases often offer special filters or search features designed to help researchers in that subject find what they need.
      • For example, in a history database, you might be able to limit your search results to those covering a particular historical period.
  • Databases contain information not available through general internet search engines (such as Google).
    • Many articles that are usually behind paywalls can be accessed through library databases. Wellesley College subscribes to over 300 different databases!

Search Key Databases for Topics in Literature

Databases can contain a combination of full-text (ready to read online) and citation information that can lead you to articles, book chapters, or books. In addition to searching literature databases, you may want to search a database in a subject area that relates to a theme you are exploring, such as climate change or gender issues. See Selected Databases in Other Subject Areas below.

Selected Databases in Other Subject Areas

The databases here are just a few that could be useful for the kinds of research topics you might be pursuing in this course. Some, like Academic Search Complete, are multidisciplinary. Others, like the America: History and Life or Sociological Abstracts, focus on specific subject areas. Check out our Database A-Z list and sort by Subject to see other databases that could be relevant for your topic.

Try these Search Tips

Use quotation marks " " to search words as a phrase. This will narrow your results.

"science fiction"

Use AND to combine multiple concepts in your search. This will narrow your results.

"science fiction" AND gender

Use OR to find different ways your topic could be expressed. This will expand your results. Group these related terms in parentheses, so the database interprets them first. The following search will find results that have any one of the terms in parentheses as well as the phrase "science fiction."

"science fiction" AND (gender OR "sex role" OR femininity OR masculinity)

Use an asterisk * to find variant endings. This will expand your results

"science fiction" AND (gender* OR "sex role" OR feminin* OR â€‹masculin*)

Search the Library Catalog

Borrowing from Elsewhere

owl mail

Can't find what you're looking for at Wellesley?

Use WorldCat Discovery to search and request directly from libraries worldwide via Interlibrary Loan.

Questions? Interlibrary Loan Guide