Skip to Main Content
London Metropolitan University

Researching for your coursework: Finding information on databases

Researching for your coursework

Using appropriate databases

You are probably already familiar with finding information on the internet, using Google and other sources. But as with all jobs and professions you may have to use specialised databases to find information. At University you will be introduced to a range of databases used in Science, Education, Business, Creative Industries, Computing, Health and other subject areas.

The Library subscribes to a number of online databases which contain high quality, scholarly material, in addition to the Library Catalogue and "Find Online Resources" discovery search tool. It is important to know where to look for which type of materials.  


Finding information via databases

The Library Catalogue is a database as is Google, Amazon, Bloomberg, IEEE, Science Direct, Oxford Online Dictionary, Digimap, Statistia, Lexis+ and so on. Databases contain structured data or information. This can be in the form of financial data, company accounts, lists and also text and images.

The library subscribes to many subject specific databases in order to support a wide variety of subjects taught at University. The good thing about these databases is that research information is reliable, authoritative, accurate and credible. This content is also copyright cleared. Most databases contain indexes and articles are found using relevant keywords.

To find a list of databases for your subject area, use our A-Z Subject Guides.  It is advisable to access these databases through your Subject guides or via the A-Z of Library E-resources  via the the drop down subject menu. This is to ensure that the database recognises you as a London Met student. If you Google the name of the database and try to access it that way, you may not be able to access the resources you need.


What is your question? 

Once you have examined your assignment to make sure you understand it, your next step is to determine what type of information resources you need to address the question.

Are you writing on a generic topic or a subject-focused topic? Have you assessed what kind of information you need to help you answer aspects of your question? If you have, you can now look at where you will find the information you need.

Do you need to source academic research articles (scholarly journals)? How do you find them? The easiest way is to search on a journals database using the keywords and key concepts you have identified for your topic.

Before you start searching subject-specific databases, you may find it easier to use "Find Online Resources"; a source discovery tool which searches for books, e-books and e-journals in a single search.


Databases / Discovery tool... what's the difference?

Subject-specific databases and the "Find Online Resources" search box (discovery tool) both search for journal articles and provide links to read the articles in full-text where available. "Find Online Resources" searches many of the subject databases at once, meaning that you will often find a large number of articles, many of which won't be related to your specific subject area.

Do you need very specialised information on different sports injury symptoms for example, or IT technical information, or a description of a specific law? If you do, then it's best to have a look at the subject-specific databases.

As a general guide:

  • Search the "Find Online Resources" discovery tool when you want a general overview of the articles available on your topic or if you want to find some articles quickly.

  • Search a subject-specific database if you want to find fewer, but more relevant journal articles on your topic.


Additional information resources

Do you require statistics or data to make comparisons or back up your analysis? Are you designing a poster on a topic? Have a look to see what is available on the Audiovisual, news, statistics & theses pages. They will tell you about some of the available statistics, newspaper, audiovisual or film databases.

Locating full-text content

When searching in databases, sometimes you will see the option to view the full-text of a journal article or other material. Sometimes you will not. The video below demonstrates how to go about locating full-text.