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Peer Reference Assistants Training Guide

Important Note

While we want you to understand and be able to apply the concepts presented here, we do not expect you to conduct in-depth research for other library patrons in your role as a Peer Reference Assistant. As mentioned previously in this guide (on the 'To Refer, or not to refer?' page), we expect you to refer students to a Penfield librarian for help beyond simple reference questions. However, learning the information presented here will help you understand more about how the library works, as well as helping you in your own studies. In other words, it's good stuff to know!

What is a Database?

Simply put, a database is an organized collection of resources or information about resources. You can search databases to find articles in scholarly and trade journals, newspapers and magazines. Different databases structure their information differently, but all of them will either be full text or citation databases.

Penfield Library's Databases

Penfield Library provides you with access to more than 160 databases that you can use to conduct effective research. Some are very specific and cover a narrow range of topics or resources, and others offer very broad coverage of a variety of topics/resources. Our databases are organized alphabetically as well within the subject guides created by our librarians to help with research in different areas.

Which Databases Should I Use?

The database(s) you choose to use will vary depending on the topic of your research. Some are specific to one subject and others are very broad, covering a wide range of subject areas.

Here are a few of the bigger/more popular interdisciplinary databases to get you started:

Understanding Boolean

A Word About Keywords

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