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Self-study material for information searches: Information sources

Selecting information sources

Depending on the topic and the approach, information can be searched from several sources:

Experts, printed sources, internet and databases.


3 facts about databases

  1. A database is 

    - a collection of references or documents in electronic form
    - concentrated on a specific subject or a field of study
    - updated by their provider
  2. Most of them are produced by commercial companies. However, libraries, scientific societies and other academic communities also provide databases.

  3. Databases containing scientific research information can be found mainly in the fields related to business and economics, natural sciences and engineering. 

The most common databases are reference databases, fact databases and full text databases.

Text databases ...

... include, among others, collections of laws, dictionaries, reference books and journals.

Databases including full text articles in scientific journals are especially important to a researcher.

For example Ebrary, EBSCOhost and Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians are full text databases.

Reference databases ...

... include short descriptions (author, title, format, abstract) from varied printed documents, such as books, research reports or journal articles.

You cannot retrieve the original information from a reference database, but it helps you find the primary source of information. 

A library catalogue is a typical example of a reference database.

Fact databases ...

... give a direct answer to a question or a restricted problem. The original document is thus not needed.

Fact databases include numerical data, statistical information and directories, such as addresses and phone numbers.