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The IB Extended Essay- Academic Resources: Why Databases?

What Are Online Academic Databases?  Why Do We Use them? 

Think of academic databases as online libraries.  Like brick and mortar libraries, some databases are large, and some are small.  Some databases are very general and cover a number of disciplines and topics while others are very specialized like a law or medical library.  Some databases are very easy to use, much like a public library one would find in many towns and cities across the world.   There are also databases that are quite complex may require assistance from an expert or online tutorial.  Most important is that understand databases, unlike the Word Wide Web, are built by information professionals... by librarians.  Just like the ancient libraries of the Roman and Mesopotamian empires, everything is selected because it has value, quality, and validity.  Nobody curates the World Wide Web; it is a free-for-all.  Consequently, your life in the academic world demands that you consult databases for your academic research.

Video Tutorials

Check out these short Creative Commons tutorials from a number of amazing university libraries.

From Carnegie Vincent Library

From Yasvapai Libraries

From Lehman College Library

From NC State University Libraries

From the Los Angeles City College Libraries

Popular Sources vs. Popular Sources 

Popular Sources

(Magazines & Newspaper articles)

Scholarly Sources

(Journal articles)

About GENERAL INTEREST or POPULAR MAGAZINES do not undergo peer review. They usually have an attractive format with photos and illustrations. They are frequently written for a general audience by a staff or scholarly writer. The language is simple and easy to understand. The purpose of these publications is to provide general information, entertain, and sometimes sell products. They are published by commercial enterprises for profit. Use popular interest journals if you only require general information about a topic. Do not expect to find substantial detail or in-depth analysis SCHOLARLY JOURNALS are often referred to as peer-reviewed, academic or refereed journals. They contain articles 1tythat have undergone a review process by selected experts in te field before being accepted for publication. They have a serious format and usually have charts and graphs to illustrate concepts. All of the sources are cited with footnotes and/or a bibliography. Scholars or researchers in a specific discipline or field write the articles. The material uses the terminology and language of the discipline and, the reader is expected to have a similar background. The purpose of these journals is to report or make research available to the scholarly world. Many of these journals are published by a professional organization. Use scholarly journals if you need verifiable and highly credible information. Scholarly journals often feature primary research with detailed analysis
Appearance Attractive appearance, Eye-catching cover
Pictures and illustrations in color
Glossy paper
Usually plain cover
May contain graphs, charts or case studies
Plain paper
Audience Non-professionals, General public
Written in non-technical language
Professors, scholars, researchers, or students
Written in the technical language of the field
Authors Journalist or professional writers Researchers, scholars, faculty
Content Personalities, news, and general interest articles
A wide variety of subjects
Articles written by staff, may be unsigned
Report original research, discoveries, or experimentation; specific topics
Publish research projects, their methodology, and significance
Articles written by contributing authors, with institution indicated
Advertisements Heavy Few or none
Reviewers Reviewed by editors Reviewed by editors, peers, and referees
Publisher Commercial Professional associations, academic institutions, commercial publisher
Frequency Published on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis Published on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis
Documentation Few or no bibliographic references Bibliographic references (footnotes, end notes, etc.)

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National Geographic
National Wildlife

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Biology of the Cell
Social Forces
Journal of Food Science and Technology Journal of Health Care Management