Show Me, an Electronic Tutorial on Searching Subscription Databases

Text version

Module 1: Surfing or Researching

Give me a fish and I eat today; teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime (anonymous proverb).

When you have an information need, your online options include:

So... What's the difference?

When 'Googling', even the best strategies give you many more questionable sources than legitimate ones.

A Google search on "iraq war" retrieves 6,550,00 hits.

Let's check four links in these results:

1st link: Cost of War- A running tally on the cost of the war. Authority? two American citizen-activists. Is this reliable information?

2nd link: News:? Subscribe to multiple news sources, or search across newspapers from around the world using Lexis/Nexis, a BU subscription database. Which search do you think is faster and more thorough?

3rd link: The ".com" extension shows that it is a private company, not published by the U.S. military. It is NOT a source or research articles. Is this worth the money? Do you have time to find out?

4th link: Iraqi War Debate 2002/2004?. A University of Michigan Library bibliography. You can trust the sources, but the databases listed (as UMICH only) cannot be accessed from these links. BU subscribes to most, if not all, of these databases. Do you know how to find them and use them effectively?

Questions to ask in evaluating websites:

Fastest way?

Most thorough coverage?



Easily accessible?



When surfing the internet you have to worry about: Authority - who is the author? Is the information current and accurate ?  Will your professor accept the website as supporting research ?

True -you can Google your way to some useful resources. But ultimately, Surfing the skimming the surface.

Subscription databases are the hidden treasures of the Internet.

Password-protected, subscription databases are inaccessible to the general population.  

The articles you identify in subscription databases are primarily peer-reviewed and published in scholarly journals .

The contents of subscription databases have been selected for authority, accuracy, and relevance.

...and you can search from your dorm room - or off-campus.

Bottom line... you can waste time searching in the wrong places.

Show Me will help you save time by teaching you to search subscription databases.

-Surfing or researching?

-What is a subscription database?

-How do I choose a database?

-How do I search?

-Finding full text


How Show Me works...

The topics in the vertical navigation bar on the left of each webpage outline the objectives of this tutorial.

Demonstrations shows you how to search specific subscription databases, such as PsycINFO and ScienceDirect, and provides important tips for successful, efficient use of these resources.

The horizontal navigation bar at the top of each page provides links to tools. Mouseover any of the words in the horizontal navigation bar for an exploration of the tool. ...and away we go...

End of module 1: Surfing or researching

Link to module 2: What is a subscription database?