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What's a Database?

A database is a source of organized, searchable information or data. Databases can contain academic journals, peer-reviewed articles, newspapers, dissertations, e-books, reports, conference proceedings, government legislation, and much more. Databases require specific searching with keywords and concepts. Examples: Academic Search Complete, ProQuest, Science Direct

Creating a Search Statement

1. Create a Research statement

This can be in the form of a question or a sentence. Just think about what you want to research and write it down in one sentence.

2. Identify the Keywords

Look at your research statement. What are the main words or concepts? They will likely be nouns, and can include phrases. Highlight them.

3. Think of synonyms

Look at the words/phrases you highlighted and think of synonyms or alternate phrases to describe those concepts. Scholarly articles often use words that we wouldn’t use in ordinary life.

4. Search in the databases

Pick two or three words/phrases from your list. Put each concept in its own search box.

5. Search again!

Try different combinations of words to get different results. Add more words to narrow down your results. Look at the “Subject” headings for each article to see what keywords are being used the most.


The information and resources found within library databases are extensive and of higher quality than most resources found on the open web. Instead of using Google to find information, make use of the vast amount of credible, quality information found within the databases.

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*Reused with permission from PGCC Libraries.