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What is a database?
A database is an organized collection of searchable records. Examples include:
- Encyclopedia Britannica Online
- Gale Virtual Reference Library
- IMDB: the Internet Movie Database
- Amazon.com (is driven by a huge database describing things to be sold)
Each database record is composed of descriptive fields, such as the Author field, the Title field.
The library pays for databases to get access to information that is not available for free.
- The Library Catalog has records for all the books and DVDs we own, plus ebooks, and streaming videos.
- Nursing and Allied Health Source contains records for scholarly journal articles, among other things.
- MegaSearch is a database that allows you to search many library databases at once.
What is a reference source?
A reference source is a publication or database designed to familiarize a non-expert with an unfamiliar topic. Examples include:
- Encyclopedias (overviews with essential background)
- Directories (how to locate people or organizations)
A Specialized Encyclopedia (contained in GVRL)
- The link opens the home page for the 4th edition of a seven-volume encyclopedia, which is contained in GRVL. You should examine every nook and cranny of this page. Notice the following features:
- You will first see the table of contents for volume 1. To see the other six volumes, use the "Choose a volume" tool.
- You can search within this encyclopedia (rather than across all of GVRL). To do this, use the Tools (at right) and the "within publication" search box. Select "All volumes in this edition." (GVRL also contains an earlier 3rd edition of this encyclopedia. You should examine only the 4th edition.)
- There is no easy way to email yourself an APA citation. However, you can use the Citation Tools.
- An encyclopedia contains three major parts,
- The front matter (which explains the source's purpose)
- Hot tip: See the Thematic Outline to see how the entries cluster in topical themes!
- The alphabetical list of topical entries.
- The back matter (which includes the index)
- Use the Crtl+F command to locate a word or phrase on any web page you are viewing. For example, if you find a 20-page article on legal issues in nursing, you can jump to all the places that the word confidentiality appears.
A Reference Database
Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL)
- Search for topic overviews across hundreds of specialized encyclopedias and other reference sources.
- Most of these sources are specialized reference sources, meaning they are written from the perspective of a specific discipline. They tend to be more detailed than an entry from a general encyclopedia. The same topic is covered differently by different disciplines.
- Your assignment involves digging into a single encyclopedia, exploring various topics and evaluating its overall value and use.
- Reference articles are presented in two formats: HTML (text only) and PDF (from the print version)
- Email articles to yourself!
- Note: Each article is followed by an MLA style citation. So, use the Citation Tool to get the APA version.