Learn about library databases, scholarly and peer-reviewed sources, and database search strategies on this page. Learn which library databases are best to use for psychology research and how to search them.
Databases are online collections of information sources that the library pays and subscribes to so students can use them. They often contain publications that are not easy to find or access elsewhere online.
Our Databases list shows all the databases the library subscribes to, listed in alphabetical order by name. It includes descriptions of the type of information you will find in each.
Once you are on the list, if you aren't sure which database to use for your topic, you can filter the databases by subject and database type to find ones that will work best for your needs. For psychology assignments, the Psychology and Health subject filters will be the most useful ones to use. The libraries' video on Database Selection shows how to navigate the Databases list in more detail.
When working with the library's subscription databases, you may be prompted to log in with your NCC account (Workday / student id number and password) in order to use our databases off-campus.
Our databases can contain a lot of different types of information sources, such as scholarly sources, peer-reviewed sources, journal articles, magazine articles, newspaper articles, reference articles, ebooks, chapters or sections of books, streaming videos, and other media and publications. Each database might include different publications and sources than the others do.
Scholarly and peer-reviewed sources may be particularly helpful for your psychology research. Scholarly sources have been written by academics or experts in a particular field or discipline with the intention that other academic experts in that area will be reading them.
Scholarly sources are focused on research including original research studies, methodology, theory, and/or experimentation, or detailed analysis. They are often presented in the forms of articles, books, book chapters, or critical essay, and are usually published by a professional association or academic press. One indicator that a source is scholarly is that it includes a bibliography, footnotes, or in-text citations for sources its author(s) used or consulted.
A peer-reviewed source is a scholarly source that has been read and assessed for accuracy and quality by other experts / scholars in the field or of the topic. The author gets that feedback and makes any necessary edits or changes before the article is published. Not all articles pass peer-review, some are rejected and never published.
Essays and books may also go through peer-review, but more commonly, a peer-reviewed source takes the form of an article in an academic journal.
EBSCO Discovery Service is a special search tool found on the library's homepage and on the A-Z Database list that tries to search all of our databases and resources (including SpartaCat) at once. When using this tool, your choice of search keywords and application of search filters (especially Full-Text) is very important. Do not hesitate to switch keywords or mix and match and try different combinations of keywords. If you are getting many results that are not useful, consider trying a smaller, more directed search in a single database.
Library tools and databases default to keyword searches. This means that they look for whatever words you have entered into the search box, exactly as you entered them. If that word or words appear anywhere in the title, summary, publication information, or even the content of one of our library sources, that source will appear in your list of results, regardless of how much information it actually provides about your idea or topic. Having a focused search strategy and knowing how to adjust your search keywords can help to ensure the results you are seeing will be relevant and useful to your needs.
For example, CAUSES OF DIVORCE may be difficult to find, especially in sources like scholarly or peer-reviewed articles. Rarely will an author cover ALL causes, effects, or behaviors relating to an issue. If they are doing original research and presenting a single study, they'll tend to focus on just one or two aspects.
Knowing some possible causes of divorce will help. You may need to do a little brainstorming or some general Internet research before looking for scholarly articles.
What are some possible causes of divorce? FAMILY STRESS, SPOUSAL ABUSE, LACK OF TRUST, EXTRAMARITAL AFFAIRS, DIFFERENT MORALS could all be more focused and precise search keywords that could lead you to more or better sources.
Choosing one of these ideas, and setting up a search like: DIVORCE and "EXTRAMARITAL AFFAIRS" might improve your results.
A good place to start your research is with a basic overview, introduction, background, or history of your topic.
Reference sources typically provide this type of information and context, and also provide quick facts and statistics. The databases Credo Reference, Gale eBooks, and Health Reference Series Online are the best ones to use for background information and include articles from encyclopedias, dictionaries, guides, handbooks, and more. Films on Demand is a database containing streaming documentaries and educational films, which also provide background information.
Once you've gathered some background information and are more familiar with your topic, you can move on to finding scholarly and peer-reviewed sources.
The databases APA PsycArticles, Oxford Handbooks Online, PubMed Central, Frontiers, and PLOS One are some of our favorites for scholarly and peer-reviewed psychology research.
EBSCO Discovery Service searches multiple NCC Library databases, as well as our library Catalog, in one search. Be sure to choose your search keywords carefully and precisely. Apply the Full-Text search filter, as well as any others to help make the results easier to navigate.
You may discover an article that would be useful for your topic, only to find that the library does not have full-text access to it through our databases. If that happens, you can submit an interlibrary loan request, and we will see if another library with access to full-text of that article is willing to share it with us. Most often, the articles will be shared with you by email, but they may take 2-3 days to arrive. Work with a librarian if you need help identifying books to interlibrary loan or assistance with the request.