What is a database?
A database is a large collection of data that is organized especially for rapid search and retrieval.
Different databases provide different kinds of information. If you need a good, general database, Academic Search would be a good choice. To find articles with both sides of a particular controversial issue, Points of View database would be the choice. Depending upon your information need, you'll want to select the most appropriate database. Napa Valley College offers general databases as well as subject-specific databases.
You can get to the databases by choosing the "Find Articles & Databases" link on the left border.
Databases by Subject
What Type of Article Do You Need?
The online databases contain articles that are published in magazines, journals and newspapers. You can limit your results to full-text as well as scholarly or peer-reviewed articles.
Vanderbilt librarians have created a helpful tutorial to help students to distinguish the difference between popular magazines and scholarly journal articles. Be sure to ask your instructor what type of sources he or she wants you to use.
The most authoritative articles to use in your research paper are peer-reviewed. To learn how articles are published in an academic, peer-reviewed journal watch this informative video from North Carolina State University librarians entitled Peer Review in Five Minutes: What's So Special About Peer-Reviewed Articles.
Need more help? Print out this helpful handout.
Google Scholar is a subset of Google Web that specifically searches for scholarly literature. It can be a helpful source for finding articles, theses, books and court opinions. In the past, you may have seen a message asking you to buy an article from a publisher when using Google Scholar. You can configure Google Scholar to the Napa Valley College Library databases so that a special link to your search results will show whether the article on Google Scholar can be obtained through NVC's databases for free. You may never have to buy an article! Here's how:
To configure Napa Valley College as a preference in Google Scholar, first log into your Google account. If you do not have a gmail account, you can register for one without charge.
Once logged in to Google, pull down the "more" button and choose "Scholar". This takes you to Google Scholar.
Next click on "Scholar Preferences" and you will see the screen below.
Midway down you will see library links. In order to get full-text article for free from Google Scholar, you will need to type Napa Valley College in the library links box and then click on "find library". When the page has refreshed, check the box for Napa Valley College EBSCOhost Full Text as shown on the screen above. Notice that WorldCat Library Search is also available because NVC is a participating library in WorldCat.
Also note that at the bottom of the page there is an option to select a bibliographic manager. Bibliography managers store the citation of the article and then produce a formatted citation in the bibliography of your paper. If you already have an account with RefWorks or EndNote you can change the default setting from BibTeX to show links to import the citations into RefWorks or EndNote.
History Information Literacy Modules
copyright 2011 Napa Valley College
updated Jan. 24, 2012, by Nancy McEnery, Reference Librarian-Instructor