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Tips for Using Index Electronic Resources

List of Oregon Tech Library Index Electronic Resources

Index databases contain records for articles in periodicals (magazines and journals), and sometimes to other publications, such as academic dissertations, company and government research reports, book chapters, and papers presented at conferences.

Indexes contain records with basic information to identify and locate the article, including article title, author, periodical title, volume, issue, pages and date of publication. Many index databases also contain abstracts, short summaries of the article contents. Some indexes also include the fulltext of the article in the record. At this point, however, most of the more professional and technical periodicals are not available fulltext online and you will need to get the article from the print periodical.

Records in an index database look something like this:

Author Gorham, Joan, and Christophel, Diane M.
Title The relationship of teachers' use of humor in the classroom to immediacy and student learning.
Source Communication Education. 39 (1, January), 46-62.
Abstract Studies teacher's use of humor in the classroom. Surveyed 206 students about teacher's use of humor . It was found that kind of humor and degree of humor did affect learning. Stale humor was counterproductive. Male teachers used humor more and male students responded better, but students also generally responded positively to use of humor by female teachers.

Here are some tips for making effective use of index databases:

* Take advantage of interlibrary loan to get the most complete information on your topic. The Oregon Tech Library subscribes to approximately 65 index databases. They are produced by associations, companies or government agencies and cover many more magazines and journals than the Oregon Tech Library has in its collection. If the record you retrieve does not include the fulltext of the article, you can check Online Catalog to see if the library has the periodical it was published in. If not, you can make an interlibrary loan (ILL) request for a copy of the article, either using the ILL request option in the index database, or by filling out an ILL Article Request from the library's website. Articles requested via ILL are usually received within 2-7 days.

* Choose an index database appropriate to your topic. The Oregon Tech Library has access to many index databases, but only a few (and maybe only one) will be useful for finding information on the right topic and of the right. Use the list of index electronic resources by subject to narrow down your choice of databases or ask a reference librarian for assistance. The database descriptions will give you a better idea of which database(s) to try.

* Use truncation of word stems to retrieve records with different word endings. For example, to retrieve the words TEACH or TEACHING or TEACHER or TEACHERS, you might key in TEACH* as your keyword. The character used for truncation (sometimes also called "wildcarding") may vary from one database to another, so remember to check the Help to see if you need to use a *, or some other symbol.

* Try to think of other words or phrases to express your topic. Some authors may use UNDERGRADUATES instead of COLLEGE STUDENTS, for example. You can often do an initial search with the words you have in mind, look at the records you retrieve to see what other terms are being used then do another search using those terms.

* When you find a good journal article on your topic, try doing a search by author to see if that person has written something else on the topic that you could use. You can also check the list of reference in the back of the article to see if there are other authors working in your area of interest, and do an Author search on their names, too.