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Lowther Hall Nora Collisson Centre (Library): Scientific Databases

What is a Database, a Dataset and Data

It is important to know what a Database is and to know the difference between Databases, Datasets, and Data

Database holds multiple Datasets. A search engine or our school catalogue are a good example of a Database.

A Dataset holds information from a particular collection of Data. An example might be a journal holding various articles all on the same area of interest.

The Data itself might be in the form of an article

So when you use a Database it searches through lots of information from Datasets which contain Data such as articles. 



What is a Scholarly Article or Academic Article?

Scholarly Article and Academic Article are two words for the same thing. Scholarly journals publish articles - usually articles about research - written by experts (scholars) in the field of study. 

Look for these symbols


Academic Search Engines

Scientific Databases by Science

PLOS Biology

PLOS publishes a suite of influential Open Access journals across all areas of science and medicine. The link above will take you to the Biology Database. Rigorously reported, peer reviewed and immediately available without restrictions, promoting the widest readership and impact possible.

This database holds popular journals such as PubMed, BLAST and Genome.

National Center for Biotechnology Information

Biomedical Central has peer-reviewed journals such as Genome Biology.

Biomedical Central

APS Physics

This database is produced by the American Physical Society

You do not need to create a login to access journals and articles



Published by NASA, LAMBDA is a long-term repository publicly available data from several cosmology experiments.




Scientific Databases for all Sciences

There are specific Databases for each area of interest. Therefore there are specific Databases for Scientific Research.

For some, you need to pay for access. Below are ones that we recommend you use which you do not have to pay for.

You will need to create a free account. Use your school account details and your first name only, if allowed.

These databases all contain peer-reviewed, scholarly articles.

Remember to look for Open Access and Creative Commons.


This database holds popular journals such as PubMed, BLAST and Genome.

National Center for Biotechnology Information



The National Library of Medicine is the world's largest biomedical library.

National Library of Medicine

Advanced Searching

Most Databases have video tutorials. Make sure you use them.

Here is an example from Elsvier as to how to use Science Direct and one on how to use DOAJ

Once in a database, use filters to help refine your search. Refine your search by:

  • using  "  "  - to get an exact match
  • date - In Science it is important to use the most up-to-date information. This is not the case in History. 


Use a Boolean search. Watch this video to learn how to focus your search for more relevant answers.