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Research Skills for Students

An Open Educational Resource

Databases by subect or discipline

This box focuses largely on academic or scholarly literature as contained in databases, organized by disciplinary area. When it comes to databases focusing on scholarly literature, it's useful to recall that databases can be divided into roughly two different types:

  • Full-text databases: which provide direct, full-text access to articles on a topic you are seeking information on
  • Citation or bibliographic databases: databases of records made up of bibliographic information or 'metadata' about the article or other format, i.e.  title, author, date and abstract. In the case of these databases, full-text can often still be quickly accessed via links embedded in the record, which is accomplished via service called 'SFX'. The link might look like: 

For scholarly information, our subscriptions or open scholarship support should provide full-text access to the information. Occasionally, you may only have access to the bibliographic information about an article.

It's probably useful for researchers and students in any discipline to have a look through the interdisciplinary tab. As the name implies, these are wide-ranging databases with information of relevance to many different disciplines.

Recall that in the case of most databases there will be video or text tutorials demonstrating its various functions. Often this will be found in the Help tab or similar. You can also try a Google search, the database vendors themselves or other libraries will often have demonstrative videos on Youtube and other popular platforms.

For the broadest possible search of the academic literature, try the catalogue via the Library website or check out the Google Scholar search engine. Remember that when searching off campus, be sure to sign in to your library account in order to get full-text access to resources. To get some full-text access via Google Scholar, remember also to change your settings, under Library links, search for NUI Galway and make sure any relevant results are ticked off. The result of this will be live links next to your results, to the right.

Broad interdisciplinary

Interdisciplinary: Science

Interdisciplinary: Social Sciences and Humanities

Interdisciplinary: Topic-specific

The below is very specific to the field of Chemistry. Students and researchers of chemistry will find much more research in the broad science-related interdisciplinary databases in the Interdisciplinary tab, check those out.

Watch an introductory tutorial on using Compendex by Susan Watson from Elsevier (the company that provides access to Compendex). The tutorial is a Zoom video, enter passcode 7PpzEf+d to view.

While the above databases are very focused on materials relating specifically to Engineering, don't forget that interdisciplinary databases like Scopus and Web of Science will also include plenty of scholarly literature on topics relating to engineering.

Many of the databases below feature primary sources (historical data in the form of many kinds of documents from the period being researched), as well as secondary sources (scholarly analysis of such primary sources). Don't forget also to check the interdisciplinary tab for broad databases relating to the humanities and social sciences, which will feature more databases of secondary information in particular. Depending on what you are researching, don't forget also that NUI Galway Library holds rich collections of unique archives and special collections that are available to you.

Check out this recent blog post (January 2021) showing how to use a number of the databases here to gain an understanding of a particular issue (in this example, of the ins and outs of 19th century Victorian society).

A number of the below databases are provided by Gale publishers. These are now available as Gaeilge.

Law uses a broad range of databases that offer access to law-related academic journal publications, case law, and legislation. Law-specific databases tend to include collections of all three.

For legal research published in academic journals, in many cases you can find the appropriate journal or journal article using the Library catalogue. If you are unable to find what you are looking for in the library catalogue, it's worth having a look in the law-specific databases.

When cited, legal publications can tend to be noted in abbreviated form The Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations is useful for the meaning of abbreviations for English language legal publications, including the British Isles, Commonwealth and the United States.

Watch this video tutorial on how to use Justis in your research by vendor representative Mary Ibrahim.

Lexis offers frequent training on how to use the database, at both beginner and advanced ('beyond the basics') level. Sign up for a session, they are offered frequently and are free.

The below database are very much focused on the literature of medicine and allied disciplines. A search in large, science-oriented interdisciplinary databases such as Scopus will often also be useful. If you are working on a systematic or similar review, such interdisciplinary databases will often be included, so be sure to check out the interdisciplinary databases tab.

See a recent announcement (February, 2021) about increased access to the RILM database.

There will be plenty of research in the natural sciences in the science-oriented interdisciplinary databases such as Scopus, check out the Interdisciplinary tab for more.

See a recent blog post (November, 2020) for highlights of this unique collection.

Writing on philosophy will often consider philosophical questions within a particular disciplinary, social, cultural or other milieu. Beyond philosophy-specific databases, depending on what your research question is, you will likely find further information in databases relevant to that milieu. So, if you are looking at a question relating to ethics within a certain medical field, for example, it would be worthwhile looking at the medical databases as well those related strictly to philosophy.

Consider also broad interdisciplinary databases strong in the humanities and social sciences, such as Jstor and Project Muse.

Sociology, social studies and social care

Political Science