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Comparing and Evaluating Search Tools
In this activity, we will work in groups to explore several of our library's discovery tools and conduct a preliminary investigation into our research topics.
Answer these questions about the tool(s) your group used.
- Search terms used.
- Are there any "advanced search" options?
- What types of sources are included? Are the sources popular, scholarly or a mix?
- Scan the first page or two of your results. What aspects of your topic do the sources discuss?
- How can you get to the full text of articles?
- How can you save an article for later or send it to yourself?
- Are there any tools to help you cite articles?
- Anything else interesting (or frustrating?) about the database?
Different discovery tools have different interfaces, but they all have advanced search features, and filters to limit your results. After 20 minutes, we will come back together for discussion and each group will share with the class their answers to the questions above.
When searching databases, try these search strategies.
Use OR to broaden your search. Ex. k-pop OR Korean popular music
Use quote marks when searching phrases. Ex. "Chinese Opera"
Use AND to search two different concepts. Ex. Africa AND blues
If your article is not available at Collins Library, you've got another option to getting it. Use Tipasa, our interlibrary loan service.
Once you have an account, either go directly to Tipasa and manually enter the information, or, if you're using a database, look for a shortcut link to automatically fill out the form.
Allow at least a week for the article to come. If your article is delivered in electronic format, you'll receive an email with a link to follow as soon as it's arrived. If it's delivered in paper, you'll receive it right in your campus mailbox.
Humanities & Social Sciences Databases
Start with these databases to find articles about your topic. Not finding anything? Check the subject guides for other databases or the A-Z list.
Music Periodicals Database
This database provides indexing, abstracts and some full-text, for international music periodicals from many countries. Content covers the full spectrum of subjects and all aspects of music, including music education, performance, ethnomusicology, musical theatre, theory, popular music forms and composition.
Performing Arts Periodicals Database This link opens in a new window
Provides indexing, abstracts and some full-text, for international periodicals. Covers a broad spectrum of the arts and entertainment industry - including dance, drama, theater, stagecraft, musical theater, circus performance, opera, pantomime, puppetry, magic, performance art, film, television and more.
Anthropology Plus This link opens in a new window
Indexes literature in the areas of social, cultural, physical and linguistic anthropology, ethnology, archaeology, folklore, material culture and interdisciplinary studies.
Sociological Abstracts This link opens in a new window
Abstracts and indexes the international literature in sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences.
America: History & Life This link opens in a new window
Covers article abstracts, book and media reviews, and dissertations on the history and culture of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present.
Historical Abstracts This link opens in a new window
Focuses on the history of the world from 1450 to the present (excluding the United States and Canada, which are covered in America: History and Life)
Ethnic NewsWatch This link opens in a new window
Focus is on ethnic area studies, and related arts, business, education, environment, history, journalism, political science and sociology news. Some Spanish language sources are available.
Bibliography of Asian Studies This link opens in a new window
Contains records on all subjects (especially in the humanities and the social sciences) pertaining to East, Southeast, and South Asia published worldwide from 1971 to the present.
Fuente Academica This link opens in a new window
Fuente Academica is a unique collection of scholarly academic journals from Latin America, Portugal and Spain. The database provides full text coverage for more than 500 scholarly Spanish language journals.
Communication & Mass Media Complete This link opens in a new window
Provides access to research in areas related to communication and mass media.
Gender Studies Database This link opens in a new window
Covers the full spectrum of gender-engaged scholarship inside and outside academia. Several thousand links to freely available and indexed full-text articles and documents on the Internet are available. Source documents include professional journals, conference papers, books, book chapters, government reports, discussion and working papers, theses & dissertations and other sources.
Below is a list of general databases covering a wide range of topics, including music. Here you'll find a mix of popular and scholarly sources.
JSTOR This link opens in a new window
A high-quality, interdisciplinary journal archive.
Academic Search Premier This link opens in a new window
This is a multi-disciplinary database containing full text for more than 4,600 journals, including nearly 3,900 peer-reviewed titles.
Research Library (ProQuest) This link opens in a new window
Features the full text of a diversified mix of scholarly journals, trade publications, magazines and newspapers covering all academic subject areas.
ProQuest Central This link opens in a new window
Covering more than 160 subject areas, ProQuest Central is a large aggregated database of periodical content. It features a diversified mix of content including scholarly journals, trade publications, magazines, books, newspapers, reports and videos.
Google Scholar This link opens in a new window
Provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources including: peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles, patents, legal opinions and federal & state court opinions.
Project MUSE This link opens in a new window
A collection of full text, scholarly, humanities, arts and social sciences journals
MasterFILE Premier This link opens in a new window
Covers popular press sources in a wide range of topics
Newspaper Source This link opens in a new window
Provides cover-to-cover full text for national (U.S.) newspapers, including The Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, The Washington Post and The Washington Times. The database also contains selective full text for regional (U.S.) newspapers. Also includes international news sources including The Times (London), The Toronto Star and others.
Nexis Uni (formerly LexisNexis Academic) This link opens in a new window
Access to news, business, governmental and legal sources.