WHAT CAN I FIND IN A LIBRARY DATABASE?
Library databases are best used for searching for peer-reviewed journal articles. For research in history, best bet databases to use are JSTOR or Academic Search Complete. See the Peer-Reviewed box at the bottom of this page for more information on what it means and how to find those articles.
The building block of a library database search is keywords. Keywords are central ideas or terms within your research question or problem. For example, if we were exploring the topic: Roman architectural advancement's relationship to the importance of public health and hygiene in the Roman culture, we might extract the following keywords: Rome, architecture, public health, hygiene.
BOOLEAN SEARCH OPERATORS
Once you have your keywords identified (2-3 is a good place to begin), you then need to connect them together in a way the database understands how to search. This is done using the Boolean search operators AND, OR, and NOT. Connecting keywords using these search operators creates a search string. For example: rome AND architecture AND public health OR hygiene.
ENTER KEYWORDS IN DATABASE SEARCH BOXES
Enter each keyword onto its own search line. If you have an OR string, include the entire string in one search box.
An article is considered "peer-reviewed" if it has been reviewed by scholars and professionals within the field of study for which the article was written. This process involves reviewing how the article was written and also the research involved in the study. The review process involves an extensive exchange between the review panel and the author(s) and the article can only be considered for publication in a scholarly journal once it has been approved.
Ask yourself the following questions about the article you are viewing to determine if it is peer-reviewed:
FINDING PEER-REVIEWED ARTICLES
Many of our databases make the process of locating peer-reviewed information very easy for us by providing a "Peer-Reviewed" checkbox limiter on the search screen. Look for that checkbox when you're searching in library databases!