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Psychology: What Are Databases?

Understanding Databases

A database is an online collection of items that can be sorted and categorized.

Amazon.com is a database that allows you to sort items you can purchase by categories, such as books, clothes, etc. You can also use filters, such as price, to find the best deals.

Library databases provide you with access to information that isn't available for free online, such as scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles, magazine articles, newspaper articles, and more. The Merced College Library spends $80-90k every year to renew its subscriptions to 70+ databases.

Academic Search Complete is a regularly used library database that is multi-disciplinary in focus. It provides access to the full text (complete articles) for more than 4,600 journals, which includes 3,900 peer-reviewed journals.

Many of the the library's databases allow you to sort and filter information sources by source type (e.g., scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles, publication date (e.g., 2009-2019), and, in some cases, by language, geography, etc. The filters available will depend on the specific database.

Databases 101: What is a Library Database?

Pollak Library eLearning (1:52)

Examples

Amazon.com and Academic Search Complete are databases.

What are some ways you can narrow down results on Amazon.com? How is this similar to the way you can narrow results in a library database like Academic Search Complete?

The limiters below were present after running a search for the term laptop in both databases. The limiters may change depending on what is available from the search results.

Amazon.com Limiters Academic Search Complete Limiters
Amazon limiters Academic Search Complete Limiters