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Choosing & Using Library Databases: Content Databases vs. Indexes

What's the Difference?

While some databases are actual collections of online content, many are simply indexes of articles or other materials. They contain citations to the material. Index/​citation databases help you discover and identify useful articles for your topic... but then you still have to actually find them. 

Knowing which type of database you're using tells you what to expect in terms of finding full text and also influences your search terms.

Common Full-Text Databases

Common Index-Only (mostly) Databases

Common Mixed Databases

  • JSTOR
  • LexisNexis Academic
  • PubMed
  • PsycInfo
  • Academic Search Premier
  • Science & Technology Collection

Important Tip

Do NOT limit yourself to full-text databases!

  1. The articles you discover in a citation-only database may actually be online. Watch this video below  to learn how to find them.
  2. Many of the "offline" articles may even be in print journal volumes still in the Library.
  3. Even if the library doesn't have an article online or in print, you can usually get a copy scanned and e-mailed to you in a few days via interlibrary loan.