Databases are similar to search engines but primarily search scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers and other sources. Some databases are subject specific while others are multi-disciplinary (searching across multiple fields and content types).
You can find a list of all of our databases organized by subject or alphabetically at:
|Natural language words that describe your topic||Pre-defined "controlled vocabulary" that describe what an item is about|
|More flexible search - looks for anywhere the words appear in the record||Less flexible search - only the subject fields will be searched|
|Broader search, but may yield irrelevant results||Targeted search; results are usually more relevant to the topic, but may miss some variations|
Keyword searching is how we normally start a search. Pull out important words or phrases from your topic.
Subject Terms and/or Headings are pre-defined terms that are used to describe the content of an item. These terms are a controlled vocabulary and function similarly to hashtags on social media.
We are indebted to the MIT What are subject headings and keywords? box for some concepts displayed here.
In the Catalog, subject headings are displayed under "Description" in the record of an item. Click on the arrow to the left of "Description" and then scroll down to the section called "Subjects."
In the Databases, subject headings may be listed as Descriptors, Subjects and/or Subject Headings and are typically located in the Abstract and/or Details of an article.
Google Scholar is a broad multidisciplinary search tool which contains citations for articles, theses, books, and more. Did you know that you can customize Google Scholar to access Sarah Lawrence College resources?
Click the link below the image to see full documentation on how to set up and use Google Scholar.
Google, and more appropriately Google Scholar, can be valid places to search for articles and organizations. However, subject specific databases will have more advanced search options and articles. Here are some key differences between databases and Google.
|Library Databases||Google Scholar|
You Can Find
|Credibility & Review||
Most databases have Filters/Limits - use these to narrow down your search to the specific dates, article type, or population that you are researching.
Here is an example of limits in a database, all databases look slightly different but most have these options.