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4. Specialized Databases: What types of specialized databases are there?

Bibliographic databases identify and describe writings or published works (books, articles, maps, etc.). They provide citations (a listing of information about the item) and sometimes include abstracts (summaries).

Bibliographic databases give you information about an item, but how do you get to it? A library catalog will typically tell you where an item is located. An article database, on the other hand, gives you information that will allow you to search for the item in a library catalog (book title, journal title, etc.). Many article databases, if subscribed through a library, now allow you to quickly check for access.

Look for the button in many of OSU’s databases and simply click on it to check for access.


Library catalogs and article databases

Full-text databases are those which supply the complete text of information in the database. While a bibliographic database provides a description, a full-text database might include the descriptive information and the complete text of the item (articles, conference papers, e-books, etc.). Some full-text databases contain full text for only some items.


Articles, encyclopedia entries, poems, or e-books databases

These databases provide mostly numeric data (numbers) in chart or table format. In some cases, they provide raw data (survey results, scientific studies, etc.) that can be downloaded to your computer, so that you can analyze it and create your own reports.


Statistics, social, or financial data databases

Directories provide brief, factual or descriptive information and are used for quick look-ups (find an address, confirm a name, locate a place, etc.).


Find people, businesses, or organizations

Databases that contain various types of media.

Images, sounds, audio clips or video excerpts.


Databases that information about a specific consumer product (sometimes for purchase).


Product information (image, price, reviews, etc.)

Quite often, databases contain more than one data type, such as a bibliographic database with full text or a database containing both videos and e-books.

Compare Them!

Compare a search for the phrase Queen Wilhelmina in the AP Images database (a paid library resource) vs. the free Yahoo! Images search. Note the differences in the types of images and where they come from.

Game Time!

Play the Database Type game to see if you can figure out what type of database various items are.

Pop Quiz

Time to test your knowledge about specialized databases with a short quiz.

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