Show Me, an Electronic Tutorial on Searching Subscription Databases

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Module 2: What is a subscription database?

What is a subscription database? It is a collection (of journal articles, citations, documents, or images) that can be queried by the user with search terms to generate results.

Subscription databases present two types of information:
1) bibliographic citations ...

2) information itself

A few databases offer a combination of bibliographic citations and full-text articles. Why don't all databases offer full text? In a word - copyright. It's expensive to repackage information you don't 'own'. Publishers of databases must negotiate contracts with journal publishers to make the articles available.

Subscription databases may include: (mouseover each type)

encyclopedias, statistical data, newspaper articles, journal articles, government documents, a specific group of books (e.g., Shakespeare), and images.

Boston University Libraries do not create or own subscription databases; we lease access rights for our community of students, staff and faculty.

BU Libraries currently subscribe to over 140 unique databases, created and published by different companies.

Why so many? Because no one database provides full subject and index coverage, indexing to all journals, or indexing to all the materials owned by the libraries.

We often subscribe to different subject databases within the same publisher 'family'.All databases in a publisher family tend to work the same way. Learning how to use one will make learning the others easy.

Many publishers allow multi-database searching within their families of databases.

We invite you to explore the wide variety of databases to which we subscribe. This tutorial will concentrate on the subject databases that help you to identify articles in journals.

End of module 2: What is a subscription database?

Link to module 3: How do I choose a database?