Skip to Main Content

SOCY 122 ASO Section 700: Introduction to Academic Library Research

Subject-Specific Indexes & Databases

Often when you are doing research you don't have an article or book title in mind, rather, you have a topic. The best resources to use for locating articles on a topic are the Library's indexes and article databases. As these research tools have a common purpose (to allow you to locate articles) the two terms are often used interchangeably.

Omni includes a tremendous amount of content from the various research databases to which Queen's University Library subscribes, but not everything is included. If you are looking for information on a very specific topic, or you want to ensure that your search results are to sociological literature, or if you find it difficult to narrow your results within Omni, it is recommended that you search databases that specialize in the subject area for more thorough results.

The Library subscribes to hundreds of online article indexes and databases (over 650 databases at last count) on a wide range of subjects. The content varies from database to database - many contain full text articles, others contain theses and dissertations, book reviews, conference papers, videos, images and music. For most databases, publisher licensing agreements with Queen's University restrict access to members of the Queen's community. That is why off-campus access to most Library databases and electronic journals is restricted to Queen's students, faculty and staff. To access these resources from off-campus, log in to the desired electronic resource by entering your Queen's NetID and password when prompted. 

Another important point about subscription Library databases is that they contain content/information (citations or full text articles, for example) that is not freely available through other search tools such as web search engines like Google and Yahoo. Subscription databases also provide a variety of search options including the ability to limit to scholarly journal content and full text. Frequently discipline specific databases, such as Sociological Abstracts, also provide a thesaurus, which enables the searcher to locate citations based on a controlled vocabulary (which is much more specific than a keyword search). As such, these types of library subscription databases are your primary gateway to the scholarly literature in your field.

Finding Specific Databases

A link to database search is available from the library homepage and from within Omni, but the best method for identifying the recommended databases for your topic or discipline is by consulting the relevant library subject guide to determine the recommended article indexes and databases. Once you know the name(s) of the databases you need to search, you can get to them faster by going through the link on the homepage.


An index is a list of citations to material (such as journal articles, book chapters, conference papers and other key information sources in your research) arranged by subject, author or title. It can be in print or electronic format.

Databases are online collections of journals, magazines and newspapers, articles, ebooks, video, music, images, or other digital content. The records in a database are presented in a standardized format, searchable in a variety of ways, such as by title, author, subject, and keyword. Examples include the various citation, abstract and full text databases to which Queen's Library subscribes, such as Sociological Abstracts.