Databases: Why Use Them?

picture of camera with colored lenses

Research projects often require you to look close up at a body of research produced by scholars in a particular field.  This research is typically collected, codified, and made findable in a tool called a subject database.

Every academic discipline has at least one subject database that's considered the disciplinary gold standard -- a reliable, (relatively) comprehensive, and accurate record of the books that scholars are publishing, and the ideas they're debating and discussing in important and influential journals. 

Databases are like lenses: they change what you see and how you see it -- and they offer you easy and efficient ways to bring your questions into sharper focus.

Two Film-Related Databases to Start With

Screen Studies  Harvard Key 

A comprehensive survey of current publications related to film scholarship alongside detailed and expansive filmographies.

MLA International Bibliography  Harvard Key 

While it's predominantly a database of literary scholarship, MLA  also has strong and substantial coverage of scholarship on film. 

TIP: For topics on Persepolis the film, try adding Paronnaud (the director) to root out items that may be more focused (or solely focused) on Satrapi's book.

Multidisciplinary Databases to Widen Your Gaze

ProQuest Performing Arts Periodicals  Harvard Key 

This database covers a broad spectrum of the arts and entertainment industry - including dance, drama, theater, stagecraft, musical theater, circus performance, opera, pantomime, puppetry, magic, performance art, film, television and more.

Academic Search Premier  Harvard Key 

A multidisciplinary database that provides you with range of article types (scholarly, popular, news).

Google Scholar  Harvard Key 

Enables full-text article searching.

Databases to Frame Race, Gender, and, Sexuality Topics

film pster for moonlight showing protagonist in green and purple lightThe databases below may or may not contain articles that study or even reference your films, but they might provide perspectives on the psychology or lived conditions of race, gender,  or sexuality and these perspectives might  be interesting to incorporate.