What is a database and why should I care?

What is an online database?

In research, we often use online databases of articles and multimedia content (pictures, videos, audio) instead of Google or Bing searching.  Databases are part of what is called the “invisible web,” which is the information that is online but that you can’t get to by using a search engine.  AACPS pays for access to our databases because they contain published information from sources like magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias, books, and court documents.  They also contain images, videos, audio, and maps.  Some databases have interactive features like quizzes or calculators.  Others allow you to save documents by creating your own login.  Most will export information to your bibliography and allow you to print, email, or download articles and content.  If you are using databases at home, you will need to use the login and password listed in your agenda book.  You can also get the logins and passwords through your class’ Edmodo group or on paper in the library.

So why use online databases?

Because the information in databases is published, it is more likely to be credible than articles found through web searches.  It is also usually more detailed.  Databases can link you to more sources on a particular topic at the same time, especially if the topic is a subject heading.  Because they give you access to published articles and primary source documents, databases also give your own project more credibility – that is, they give stronger evidence to back up your claim.

More information from the Anne Arundel County Public Library

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