Answered By: Mary Ann Cullen
Last Updated: Aug 12, 2021     Views: 3089

A database is a large collection of data organized for rapid search and retrieval. When we talk about research databases at Georgia State University, the "large collection of data" is referring to articles, ebooks, streaming videos, images, or other kinds of information resources. These resources are searchable by title, author, subject, date of publication, and other parameters so that you can easily find the information sources that fit your needs. You can access all the databases at GSU Library through the GSU Library homepage.

The username and password required for access off-campus are your GSU Campus ID and password. (The same as what you use for iCollege, Paws, and email.)

Screenshot of library homepage showing location of database searches.

The Discover Tool is the default search box on the library homepage. When you search in Discover, you will get search results from many, but not all, of the library's databases as well as the library catalog. The Discover Tool also includes an Advanced Search with more search options. Discover is great for multi-disciplinary topics and often provides a fast way to get to information on a topic. However, often you will get better results by searching individual databases, either through Browse by Subject or Databases by Name A-Z. If you know you want books, DVDs, other other physical items, you can search the GIL-Find library catalog , or limit your Discover Search to "Library Catalog Only"


To use the Discover basic search:

  • Think of some key words that describe your topic and enter them in the search box. (Just include the most important words; do not write a complete sentence or question.) Here's an example:Discover search example
  • After completing your search, use the Limit To options on the left side of the search results Limiters in GALILEOpage to narrow your results by date range and type of resource (e.g. e-book or article).
  • You can also click a box that narrows your results to Full Text, meaning only articles that you can open immediately. (Articles that are not full text may be available in print or by requesting it through Interlibrary Loan.)  
  • You may choose to limit your search results to the Library Catalog if you are looking for books, DVDs or other physical items in the library. (Not for articles.)
  • Items with a "Find It@GSU" button may not be readily available online. Click the button to find out where to locate the article or request an Interlibrary Loan.
  • If you are not finding what you need, try altering your search terms or limiters. You might also try going to a database recommended for your subject. Remember you can ask a librarian for help -- That's why we're here!

The Discover Advanced Search gives you more search options:

  • Multiple search boxes allow you to combine search terms in more complex searches.
  • Drop-down boxes allow you to specify that your search terms are the title, author, or major subject of the item you're looking for.
  • You can narrow by discipline, date, particular journal title, and many other details before you search. (You will still have limiters after searching.)
  • You can change the way the Discover tool searches. For example, you can choose to limit your search to the major descriptors of the articles instead of looking within the full text of articles in the "Boolean/Phrase" search mode.  This type of search requires that you connect your search terms with Boolean Operators.

Databases by Subject helps you identify the best databases (and sometimes recommended websites) for your subject.

  • Use the menu (not the Discover search box) to locate the subject area that best fits your topic.  
  • For each subject, there is a list of recommended databases, along with a description of that database. 
  • Click on the database to access that database, then you can search in that database.  
  • Each database functions a little differently, so look for help information in the database (often a question mark icon), see if there's a tutorial on our Tutorials page,  or Ask a Librarian for help.

Databases by Name A-Z allows you to go to a specific database when you know the name of the database you want to use. Click on the first letter of the database, then scroll through the list to find the database. If you want to search for the database, go to the list of All databases and enter the name or subject of the database in the search box (not the Discover search box). 

A few databases have special requirements such as on-campus only or creating a separate account. Read the description to find any special requirements.

screenshot of an example of a database with special requirements for access

Journals search will help you find a particular periodical (journal, magazine, or newspaper) by title. If the full text of articles in that periodical are available in our databases, you will be provided a link to the database, along with the dates of the periodical included in the database. If no full text is available, you will still be provided with links to search in the library catalog for a print copy and an option to request articles from the journal through Interlibrary Loan.

screenshot with instructions on how to search with the Journals dropdown selection

If you have a citation for a specific article, Journals A-Z also has a Citation Linker that allows you to enter more details about the article, such as the title, author(s), and journal, then will help you find that article.

For more help, ask a librarian.


Reviewed 8/12/2021 bgw


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