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History and Philosophy of Science @ Pitt: Getting Started

A brief guide to library resources useful to Historians and Philosophers of Science

What is a Database?

When we refer to a 'database' in libraries, we are referring to online resources that index journals, journal articles, conference proceedings, book chapters, and other content. These databases make it easy for users to search across multiple content types and content providers without having to search each provider individually. Some databases offer access to a broad variety of content, and are often good starting points for research. Other databases are subject specific and are useful for finding resources related to a specific field of research.

All of our databases offer multiple options for searching and refining search results, and many of the databases offer access to full-text articles.

Finding Databases at Pitt

The University of Pittsburgh Library System (ULS) subscribes to a large number of databases to help you find research materials. Use the links below to find the types of databases for which you are looking.

Choosing a Database

The type of database you choose for your research will depend on the type of project you are considering and the types of research questions you are trying to answer. In many cases, preliminary research to help formulate your research questions and solidify your research project can be best conducted in a general purpose database. On the other hand, if you have a solid research theme, working in a subject specific database often results in more in-depth content.

Use the links below to see some examples of general purpose and subject specific databases. These databases are listed from most general to most specific.

Formulating Your Search Terms

With your research topic in hand you must formulate a search strategy. The first step in this process is to develop a set of search terms you will initially use to search for resources. You can draw an initial set of search terms from your thesis topic (e.g. nanotechnology AND electronics), but it may also be helpful to try some more specific search terms (e.g. molecular electronics, carbon nanotubes), and possibly some broader terms (e.g. nanotechnology).

Refining Your Search

It is highly unlikely that your first search will result in a perfect result set. Refining your search can return more relevant results, providing you with higher quality resources for your research. Use the tips below to refine your searches: