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What is a Database?

A database is an electronic (online) collection of information about journal articles, books, and other research materials.  Many databases include or link to full-text articles.  Some have only abstracts or citations (these are often referred to as “Indexes”). Databases that Seton Hall libraries subscribe to are found on the Databases and Indexes to articles link under “Articles and Journals” on the library home page.

Databases can be searched by one or more fields such as title, author, subject or keyword.  You can usually add restrictions such year of publication, language, peer-reviewed ("scholarly") or full-text to further narrow your search. Often you will need to select "advanced search" to take advantage of these tools.  It's worth taking the  time to learn how to search databases well - it will save you time and trouble in the long-run! 

Do I want a database or a journal?


  • Doing research on a topic?  Use a database.

If you are looking for one or more articles on a specific topic, it is most effective to search many journals at once rather than browse/search one at a time. Databases such as ScienceDirect index many journals (over 1100 are full text). Remember that access to these databases is SHU restricted, so you will need to log in if you are off-campus.

If you are looking for a specific article and you know the name of the journal it appears in (e.g. you have a citation) or if you want to browse a particular journal --- go to e-journals.  If you don't find your journal listed there, try print journals.  Remember that old issues are often available in print.