Answered By: Rob Heaton
Last Updated: Aug 01, 2022     Views: 179

When you conduct searches in Compass (and in Google Scholar via the link on the library’s homepage), your search results will include electronic full text items from the roughly 1,000 databases and collections to which the University Libraries subscribes. While Compass and Google Scholar are excellent first steps in your research process, thorough research will include a second step: navigating directly to the databases best suited for your research topic or overall academic discipline for deeper cuts and hidden gems not always indexed by the master search tools.

Databases A-Z

There are two methods you can use to discover and search within the best databases for your research. First, our Databases A-Z List can be found on the library’s homepage on the left side below the Compass search bar. 

Compass search box on library homepage with the Databases link highlighted.

Clicking the “Databases” link will lead you to an alphabetical list of our subscription and open access databases. Databases can be filtered by subject and type using the dropdown menus on the database search page. We also have new and trial databases featured in the right hand panel. Notice that trial databases are only available for certain periods of time (you can find the exact dates under the record for each database).

A-Z Databases list

If you select a Subject using the dropdown menu, you will see what we call “Best Bets!” and then an alphabetical list of subject databases below. “Best Bets!” are databases chosen by our librarians that are best for finding resources for that subject. They tend to be broader databases for this reason, while other databases for a subject will be more specific in focus.

Interdisciplinary Databases

The Databases A-Z page also has links to access Interdisciplinary databases, which can be found as an option in the “Databases by Subject” dropdown menu. This takes you to a list of databases such as Academic Search Complete, Credo Reference, etc. These databases can be helpful if you feel overwhelmed by Compass as they can generate narrower search results.

Databases list with "General/Interdisciplinary" chosen from the Subject drop-down menu.

Using the Research Guides

Oftentimes, patrons will find the tailored Research Guides a more comfortable route into the library’s databases. To access the libguides directory from the library’s homepage, click the “Research Guides” link on the right side below the Compass search box.

Compass search box on library homepage with the Research Guides link highlighted.

Here you will find a listing of Libguides curated by our reference librarians on nearly every discipline studied at the University of Denver. Clicking on one such discipline will bring up a full list of currently published guides relevant to that subject.

List of available research guides.

Some libguides have been developed for individual classes and assignments, which might limit their applicability to research broadly. Instead, you can typically click on the broadest guide possible within your discipline to find a curated list of databases relevant to your subject. In the case of Psychology Research Guides listed above, you might therefore select the main Psychology libguide.

"Database & Article Search" tab within the main Psychology libguide.

Research Guides can contain many different types of resources, including some freely available on the Web, that the reference librarians have selected as helpful for students in the given discipline. However, to discover the best databases suited for your research, look for a Databases tab within the libguide. You can then click through to access each database and enter keywords appropriate for your topic, generating a list of search results.

If you’ve previously run related searches in Compass or Google Scholar, you will typically see some overlap in the results generated by these specialized databases. However, researchers using the databases frequently report finding hidden gems— key research not easily found via keyword searches in Compass. Plus, these specialized databases often have unique search features and filters that can’t be found in Google Scholar or Compass.

The next step in your research process will be to filter through your search results, reading abstracts and downloading Full Text PDFs where these are available. If you have trouble accessing the full text of articles, see our related FAQ on finding articles in full text.

Research Center

Feel like you don’t know where to begin your research, or need help with navigating the databases? Contact the Research Center in the Anderson Academic Commons by email, webchat, or phone, or visit us in person for expert research help seven days a week. One-on-one research consultations with a reference librarian are also available by appointment. Consultations can help you at any stage of the research process, from refining your topic, to finding books and articles, to how to use Zotero.