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Course & Subject Guides
PittCat, Databases, and e-Journal Collections: What are the Differences?
The University Library System (ULS) offers millions of resources -- books, journals, articles, streaming media, databases -- for Pitt researchers like you to use. It's sometimes hard to know where to look for the information you need. The explanations below can help you get started, or feel free to ask for help from your class librarian Chris Todd.
PittCat displays materials owned by the University Library System (ULS).
- An overarching search engine that searches broadly across all ULS content
- Especially good for new and emerging research trends
- Provides a broad array of sources, but the results can appear unfocused
- Includes references to books, journals, articles, images, archival materials and DVDs
- Includes many direct links to online books and articles
- Is very forgiving in terms of spelling
Which Tool Should You Use to Get the Best, Most Efficient Results?
- Start with PittCat for a beginning browse across ULS materials, then move on to the databases for more in-depth materials.
- Subject databases to find out what practitioners in a specific discipline or profession are writing and reading. Use the Business Databases page or the Law and Legal Studies page to help you select a database.
- News databases for current news coverage. Examples of these would be Academic Lexis-Nexis, or Newspaper Source.
- JSTOR, or Academic Search Premier, to get a broader picture of current publications.
Databases contain references to journal articles, reports, books, and other documents organized around specific subject areas. The citations in databases frequently contain links to full-text content, and often include an abstract with a summary of the article.
- Database content is scholarly in nature, and has been reviewed by editors prior to its inclusion into the database
- Databases often focus specifically on a subject, rather than the general approach taken by PittCat
- Law and business databases will contain links to journals, reports, and books that are held in the ULS collections
- Databases allow you to use very specific terms to limit your search results. Often a database may use disciplinary language or controlled vocabulary to narrow down your topic and combine terms
- Not all journals or magazines are available online. You can use the E-journal Search to find online coverage for a particular journal.
- If the ULS doesn't have online access to a particular journal, you can use the Interlibrary Loan service to request a copy of an individual article. Due to U.S. copyright restrictions, Interlibrary Loan cannot send whole copies of journals.
- Most databases or PittCat link will out to individual online articles if available.
- E-journal collections are not databases, but digitized groups of journals, produced by journal publishers
- Examples include: JSTOR, Project Muse, Cambrdige Journals Online
- Some include limited search or browse capabilities by general subjects, for example, Education, but do not allow you to search in any sophisticated manner
- e-Journal collections are a good way to stay up to date in your field by seeing what types of articles are being currently published