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CHEM 151 (Roberts): Find sources in databases

Don't forget OneSearch!

Reference databases for background information (secondary or tertiary sources)

Reference materials can be a good place to start your research.  They include works such as encyclopedias, handbooks, dictionaries, atlases, indexes, directories etc., and can be either in print format or online. Reference sources give you:

  • Background information
  • Concise overview of your topic
  • Key issues, events, people, organizations
  • Specialized terminology
  • Bibliographies -- lists of additional sources of information

Reference sources can be general, like the World Book Encyclopedia or the Encyclopedia Americana, but there are also reference works focusing on a specific subject, such as The Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, The Gale Encyclopedia of Science, The Encyclopedia of Ionic Liquids, A Dictionary of Chemistry, etc.


Article databases for scholarly primary (+secondary) sources

Set limits in databases for scholarly, magazine or newspaper articles

Use these tips to find articles in MCC Library databases

Try using both keyword and subject searches.
Use the subject terms generated by your search.
Limit the search by date, if appropriate.
Limit by scholarly or peer-reviewed publications.


No Results?

  • Check your spelling.  While Google will correct spelling, databases do not.
  • Are you in an appropriate database? Check the descriptions or ask a librarian.

Too Many Results?

  • You may not have used appropriate search terms, or you may have used too few search terms.
  • Try adding one or more search terms -- link them with AND.
  • Fewer search terms = More results, possibly less relevant

Not Enough Results?

  • Are you in an appropriate database? Check the descriptions or ask a librarian.
  • Broaden your search by decreasing the number of search terms (keywords.)
  • Generally the more search terms you use, the fewer results you will get.
  • More search terms = Fewer results, greater chance of relevance