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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

ESL Undergraduate Student Guide

A guide to support international students in ESL 112 and 115 and beyond.

What Is a Database?

A database, used in the library to find information, is a searchable collection of published sources. On this page, we are looking at databases that contain articles published in journals, magazines, and newspapers. Some databases contain information about many different topics, such as Academic Search Ultimate, and others contain information about specific topics, such as PsycINFO (psychology) and Business Source Ultimate (business).

The library's Find Articles Guide is a great starting point to start your search for articles.

To find out more about the benefits to using a library database, check out the library's Compare Databases and Search Engines page.

Academic Search Ultimate

Academic Search Ultimate is a great starting point for finding articles on many topics and subject areas. Follow the steps below to search this database. Please note that if you are off-campus, you will be asked to enter your NetID and password to login. 

  1.  Enter keywords from your Brainstorming Keywords Worksheet in the search boxes.
  2.  Click Search.
  3.  Look closely at the first two pages of your results.
  4. Click on an article title to find more information about an article.
    When you find a good article:
    1. Read the Abstract to learn what the article is about.
    2. Look closely at the Subject Terms. Add these to your Brainstorming Keywords Worksheet and use them in new search combinations.
  5. To  improve your search:
    • If you have too few results, use fewer keywords, or try an alternative keyword from your concept map.
    • If you have too many results, add another keyword, or try an alternative from your concept map.

How to Use Academic Search Ultimate: VIDEOS

Use Other Databases

The Find Articles Guide provides a list of additional databases to search. The information found in these databases will be more focused on specific subjects:

  • Starting Points: Multi-subject databases that contain information on many subjects. These databases can be the best places to start your research.
  • Newspapers: A selection of major newspapers and newspaper collections.
  • Subject Databases: Listed alphabetically by subject areas, these databases will include additional sources related to the specific subject. Search one of these if you are interested in articles with a specific focus.