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LIB102 - Databases: Intro to Databases


This online class goes through what databases are, where to find them, and how to search them. You can navigate between the two sections of this class using the tabs above (Intro to Databases & Searching Databases), and internally within sections using the Table of Contents linked along the left side of each page.

What is a Database?

NAIT library subscribes to a wide variety of business, health & medical, engineering, environment, automotive, newspaper, and other subject-specific databases. Articles, eBooks, streaming videos, reviews, and case studies are just a few examples of what you can find in databases provided by vendors such by EBSCOhost, Gale, and ProQuest.

Databases are:

  • Containers for electronic resources like articles, eBooks, and streaming videos.
  • Available at any time, from any computer on-campus and often any computer off-campus.
  • Excellent sources for in-depth and current information.
  • Sources of reliable, reputable, and accurate information.


Can't I Just Google?

Search engines such as Google take snapshots of the surface web: pages that are openly available online. Anything that requires a password or has specifically requested not to be indexed by Google will not be visible in a web search.

  • Library databases provide access to the deep web: pages available only through a specialized search engine or in a database you need to log in to view.
  • You know what quality of resources you're getting when you use articles from the databases. Search an online newspaper database, and you'll find newspaper articles. Search for articles in academic journals, and you'll find articles that have been evaluated and are excellent sources of quality information.
  • You can use web search engines to find valuable information, but you have to be vigilant about evaluating it to ensure you are only using good quality information.

Buy this article for only $9.99!

Databases provide access to a huge number of valuable, academic sources. As a NAIT student, you have access to full-text articles in thousands of journals through the library databases.

You may discover Internet websites with useful articles, but you may not be able to access them without paying to see the full text of the article. When this happens, try finding them in the library databases instead. The library pays a subscription fee so you can access articles in the databases and have a wide range of information at your fingertips.

NAIT Library Databases

You can use the databases to search for a wide variety of online information sources in scholarly journals, trade journals, e-books, newspapers or magazines. If instructors say, "Don't use Internet resources," they do not mean databases.

The library search tool pulls together search results from many different databases simultaneously, which can be a helpful way to search, especially when starting out. As your research topic becomes more specific, however, going directly into the individual databases gives you more search tools to find precisely what you need.


As a NAIT student, you can access the databases at your convenience (any time of the day or night!). As NAIT databases are restricted for use by students and staff, you'll be prompted to authenticate by entering your username and password.

Locating Databases

Links to the databases are available from multiple locations on the library website - just look for the phrase "Resource Collections & Databases." Databases are arranged by subject, although you also have the option to look through the alphabetical list of all of our databases.

Once you have selected a database, click its name. If you are not logged in elsewhere, it will ask you to agree to Access & Conditions of Use, then prompt you to log in with your NAIT username and password.



Trade Periodicals

Periodicals that provide industry information are called trade publications and are appropriate sources of information for assignments.

Trade publications:

  • Provide current information about your field or industry.
  • May use technical and trade-specific language.
  • Include advertisements and articles geared towards specific industries.
  • Are published for and by people in a specific field or industry.

Examples of trade publications found in the Academic Search Complete database include Machine Design, Chemical Week, Ceramics Technical, Technology Review, ENR: Engineering News Record, and Architectural Review.

Popular Periodicals

Magazines and newspapers are often called popular periodicals.

Magazines and newspapers:

  • Contain short articles (1-5 pages long).
  • Are often written by journalists, not subject experts, and are not peer-reviewed.
  • Often provide local coverage.
  • Can be purchased at shops and grocery stores.
  • Cover current issues and events.
  • Are intended to entertain and inform.
  • Are written for a general readership.

Examples of popular periodicals found in the OmniFile database may include Maclean's, PC World, Newsweek, Stitches Magazine, Horticulture, and Canadian Business.

Scholarly Articles

Scholarly periodicals are often known as academic journals.

What is a Scholarly Article? from Kimbel Library on Vimeo.

Scholarly journals:

  • Have longer articles, 10 pages or more.
  • Use technical or subject-specific language.
  • Are written by experts in the field (typically researchers or academics), whose credentials are provided.
  • Include a reference list at the end of each article.
  • Require a subscription (paid by NAIT library).
  • Contain articles that are often peer-reviewed.

Most databases that have both scholarly journals and popular or trade periodicals will give you the option to narrow your search to only scholarly journals. Examples of scholarly publications found in the Academic Search Complete database include International Journal of Smart & Nano Materials, Journal of Mechanical Engineering, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, and Journal of Business & Psychology.

What do you do once you've found a scholarly article? Reading and understanding scholarly, scientific work can be a very different experience from reading anything else. Give yourself ample time to work through all the content.



Using the Databases for Research

Searching for online journal, magazine, and newspaper articles in the databases is an effective way to:

  • Access and read peer-reviewed journal articles online.
  • Access and read news stories from dependable sources.
  • Assess what's already been studied and written on your topic.
  • Find bibliographies that point to other relevant research.
  • Retrieve results using similar techniques to those you already know from using the library search tool.
  • Locate resources appropriate for scholarly or academic research.

You can search for journal articles as quickly and easily as you search the web, but the quality of the results from databases are scholarly and credible.

Databases are web-based (but are NOT freely available to the public using search engines) and are updated daily with new articles. The contents of new journal issues are added to the databases as soon as the articles are released, often before the print copy hits the shelves. You can limit your searching to full-text articles, allowing you to read the entire document on your computer screen. You can also print or save the article.