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Lansing Community College Library

Reference & Instruction Guide: Databases

Policies, procedures, best practices and training guide, for reference and instruction services.


The library subscribes and manages over 100 research databases.

What is retrieved?

  • Full text documents
  • Citations and abstracts
  • Images, charts, and other graphics
  • Statistics and other numeric data
  • Multimedia (videos, podcasts, television, and radio broadcasts)


On-Campus Access

Access Help

Search Strategies

  • Discern at least a few keys terms or concepts to begin a search.
  • Start with broad concepts.
  • Think of alternative concepts (narrower, broader, related)

The key to a successful search is using controlled vocabulary -- the same vocabulary need to be used by both the indexer and the searcher. Not all databases use controlled vocabulary. If a thesaurus is available in the database, check your search terms.

  • "Stop" words -- conjunctions, prepositions, forms of "be."
  • Common words -- Example: "Bond" (James, chemical, or treasury?) Be specific and try to choose words with narrow definitions.
  • Not thinking of synonyms -- "zip code" or "postal code."
  • Homonym confusion -- "lead" (verb or chemical element?)
  • Upper case vs. lower case -- case sensitivity is sometimes an issue. Generally, lower case will return results that contain both upper and lower case.
  • Playing favorites with databases, search engines, websites.

Suggested Activities-Databases

  • Conduct your own searches on any topic. Think of different ways to state the same idea. Try the search in two or more databases. How are they similar? How are they different?
  • Familiarize yourself with the descriptions in the research databases lists.
  • Become familiar with the recommended databases within the library's research guides.
  • Access one of the library's research databases from off-campus to experience remote access.
  • When the library subscribes to a new database, offer to demo it at a Reference Services Team meeting.