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Finding Databases
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How to Use the Database Information System (DBIS)

The Database Information System (DBIS) contains detailed records of currently more than 10.000 databases. It is the best tool to find and access databases as it offers useful searching and browsing options, informs you about the resources' content as well as which commercial ones your library subscribes to. In DBIS, databases of all access types are listed: Commercial ones with different types of licenses as well as items which are freely accessible in the internet.

Which databases are there? Which ones are licensed by my institution?

DBIS offers two views on the databases:

  • “Gesamtbestand” shows you all resources which are listed in DBIS. This is very useful if you want to get an overview over relevant databases in your field in general.
  • The second view reduces the commercial databases listed in DBIS to the ones your home institution has licensed or which can be accessed pay-per-use. This institutional view thus is essential for accessing commercial resources. The ones which are freely accessible in the internet are also included. Usually, when you work within the network of your home institution, per default the institutional view on DBIS will appear when you access its website.

If you want to switch between the views you can do this via “Bibliotheksauswahl / Einstellungen” in the left vertical navigation bar and the dropdown-menu which appears. Pick the view you need and don’t forget to click on “Go!”.

Here is a tip for all who travel: When you plan to visit another university, check in “Bibliotheksauswahl / Einstellungen” which databases its library has licensed. Maybe there is a special one which you don’t have access to in your home institution and you could work with it on one of the library’s computers during your stay.

Tip: Always access databases via DBIS!

Generally, the best way to access databases is via DBIS because it leads you to the resource on a path that is supported by the technical infrastructure of your institution:

There are different technical types of user authentification and a library usually supports only one or two of them. For example, there is an authentification type called “Shibboleth” which is used when you log into a database via its home page in the internet (“institutional login”). Even if your library or university has the license for the resource and appears among the list of providing institutions you will not be able to login this way if it doesn’t technically support this authentification type. That’s why DBIS is always the best starting point for working with databases as it will open the right technical gate for you when accessing a resource. 

Searching and Browsing Options in DBIS

Do take note of DBIS’ advanced search (“Erweiterte Suche”)! Often it is forgotten, but actually offers excellent browsing options worth exploring: Next to searching the database descriptions, searching by title and by subject heading you can filter by academic discipline/subject, database type, type of access and by region.

Below you find some examples for typical search requests just to give you an idea what DBIS offers. Please also note the hints for finding databases in the subject-specific search tips: American Studies, Australian & New Zealand Studies, Canadian Studies, English / British and Irish Studies

Which databases are there concerning my subject?

  • E.g. History: Choose „Gesamtbestand in DBIS” , „Fachübersicht“ and „Geschichte“.
  • As you might not want to look through the list of 2079 hits, filter by database type in the field "Sortierung der Ergebnisse” or switch to advanced search and combine the subject-filter “Geschichte” with a subject heading or another filter suitable for your research focus.

Which databases are there concerning the region I study?

  • Choose „Gesamtbestand in DBIS”, use advanced search and apply the region filter. If necessary, combine with the subject filter or a subject heading.

I am looking for a reliable bibliography in my field.

  • Choose „Gesamtbestand in DBIS”, use advanced search and combine the subject filter with the database type filter: Pick „Fachbibliographie“.
  • If you click on an item, you are led to an overview on the database’s content, subject scope and accessibility. Under “Bibliothek(en) mit Bestandsnachweis“ you can see whether your institution has a license, if a license is necessary.

Which commercial databases concerning my subject does my library offer access to?

  • Choose the institutional view on DBIS and use advanced search.
  • Combine the subject filter (e.g. History) with the filter “Art der Nutzungsmöglichkeit” where you pick “Uninetz” (accessible within the computer net of the institution).  Also check the results with “Einzelplatz” (accessible only on a single computer in the library) and “CD-Rom-Server”.

I have heard of a particular database and would like to access it.

  • Make sure to pick "Gesamtbestand in DBIS".
  • Enter one or more title keywords into the quick search bar.
  • Check in "Bibliotheken mit Bestandsnachweis" whether your home institution has licensed it. If that is not the case, DBIS will often inform you in the item’s description about alternative ways of access, e.g. pay-per-use, or you can check in which other institution nearby it might be accessible.
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