Database Skills (Science Direct)

  • Defining Databases
  • Keywords
  • Results
  • Saving you Articles

Please press NEXT to continue.

Getting Started

Welcome to the Database Tutorial Series.

This tutorial will teach you about using the Science Direct database.

This "Guide on the Side" tutorial allows you to continue to use the library websites while also following along with the tutorial.

Note: If you are off campus, you may be asked for your Pirate ID and passphrase to log in to the database.

The tutorial will take approximately 10 minutes. Click the right arrow at the bottom of this pane to proceed.


Before we begin, please take note of the following navigation buttons that you will see in the Guide on the Side panel:

Your Turn Button

 Your Turn: This button represents an opportunity to use the database during the tutorial, so please follow the directions.



Ask Us Button and Link

 Ask Us: Click this to be connected with a librarian via IM when the Research Desk is open.



Let's get started!

Sample Topic

For the purposes of this tutorial, we will be using the following sample topic:

What is the breeding behavior of Adelie penguins?

The paper requirements say that you need at least 2 scholarly sources.

You can find scholarly sources in a database, but what is that?

Ask Us Button and Link



Defining Databases

You can find articles by searching in a database. A database is a searchable collection of information. Examples of everyday databases include your iTunes library and IMDB, the Internet Movie Database. A library database contains scholarly journal articles, newspapers, magazine articles, trade journals, and sometimes book chapters.

The database we are searching in this tutorial is Science Direct. This is a subject-specific database, which means it is limited to one field of study: science.


Recall that our sample topic is: What is the breeding behavior of Adelie penguins?

The next step we must complete is to develop keywords.

Your Turn Button

Your Turn! Consider your topic. What keywords do you think would be best for this search? Click the link to see the answer.




To learn more about generating keywords or Boolean operators, please visit our Graduate 101 Research Tutorial.




Your Turn ButtonYour Turn! Insert the keywords into the "Search all fields" box and click the green magnifying glass or hit Enter to search.




Keyword reminder:

Adelie penguins AND breeding AND behavior


You should have some results on your screen. But how do you make sure they are current, scholarly information? Notice that on the left side, you will see check boxes for the following:
  • Year
  • Content type (Journal, book, etc.)

Your Turn ButtonYour Turn! Click on the journal check box and select the Apply Filters button.  Next, select the last five years and apply those filters. Notice that the results list gets shorter.


 A Note about Full Text

If the whole article is not available as a PDF, try the purple Find It! button and you will see that ECU Libraries may have the full text in another database or journal. If we do not have an article, we can normally get it for you via Interlibrary Loan. This free service can be used to borrow an article or book from another library that does have it.

Find It

Ask Us Button and Link




You should be looking at a list of scholarly articles about the the breeding behavior of Adelie penguins written in the last 5 years.

To learn more about an article, click on Abstract which is located under the article information. The abstract is a short summary of the article. Read this to decide if the article is right for your project.

Your Turn ButtonYour Turn! Click on a few abstracts and read them. Which would you consider using for your paper?

Saving you Articles

Notice the boxes beside the article title in your results list.  You can select the articles you need for your research and download them or send them to a citation manager.  

If you want to email the articles, you should download the articles and add them as an attachment to you email.

Your Turn ButtonYour Turn! Download 2 articles to you computer by clicking the box next to the titles and selecting Download PDFs.

Saving you Articles

You should now have 2 items for your paper on the breeding behavior of Adelie penguins.

Next Steps: If you wish to completeBack Home Button and Link this tutorial again with your own topic, you may start over by clicking Back Home.




Ask Us Button and Link

You have completed this tutorial.

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If you are doing this for a class, you may need to enter your instructor's email address below. Note that you can enter multiple email addresses separated by commas.

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