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FES 520: Posing Research Questions

Library guide to finding information resources in forest science and related fields.

Accessing Library Databases

You want to make your case with the best evidence.  The library purchases access to indexing databases which help you to identify articles on specific topics. Most databases are not freely available to the public and are only licensed to OSU Libraries for the OSU community of users.  They are independent of the holdings of any one library.  

To begin using these databases and locating articles in "peer reviewed" journals and other reliable resources, start on the OSU Libraries home page:,

  • Use the "FIND IT" tab and click on "Databases" then use the alphabet provided to locate the database you want to use.
  • If you are not on campus, you will encounter the "ez-proxy server" asking you to "authenticate" yourself as a qualified OSU user by entering your ONID username and ONID password.
  • Apart from this, you should never be asked for a username nor a password while attempting to use a database. If you are asked for one, this is usually an indication that the ports are busy. Just try again later.

Variation among databases

“1Search” searches across many of our databases and e-journals.  There are specific databases for every subject area as well.  Most of these began as printed indexes (some with abstracts).  These indexes were often published by societies as a service to their community of scholars.  In other cases they were a commercial product purchased by libraries to make their journal collections more accessible. 

A database search interface and "look" are determined by its vendor. We use several vendors (attempting to get the best value for your dollar) including:

  • Ebsco
  • CAB Direct
  • Proquest
  • Web of Knowledge

Whether or not a database is “easy” to search is a function of both the database content provider and its vendor. This is another reason to consider 1Search first. Still it is useful to look for information about a database before you begin searching:

  • Description of content
    • Is there a list sources (e.g. journals, reports, books, etc) used to create the database conten?
    • What are the years of coverage?
  • Link to Help/Tips/Hints.
    • How to truncate terms in your search (which “wildcard” symbols are used, e.g. *, ?, #)
    • How to enter author name searches (look for an author index)
    • How to combine earlier searches so you can “start simple.”
    • How to save searches (so you can come back to it later)
    • How to “mark” specific citations from a search and later print/email/download/export those citations as a batch
  • How/can you maintain saved searches or a “my[database]” space to save work within the database.
  • Are abstracts included with each citation?
  • Is there a "thesaurus" of descriptors (“controlled” terms)?

Remember to look for is the “360 Link to full-text.” This makes it easier to locate articles while you are connected to a database. It is also wise to create and export lists of references so you are maintaining a bibliography of references – there are several options for software to help you with this (EndNote, Zotero, Mendeley, etc.). Though they are somewhat straightforward there are also workshops offered on these by the library several times each term.