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What is the difference between a “database” and an “interface?”

An EBSCO database is a collection of searchable information that is aggregated and organized for rapid search and retrieval. Some EBSCO databases include Academic Search Premier, Business Source Complete, and MAS Ultra – School Edition.

Here’s an example of some available databases on the Choose Databases screen of the EBSCOhost interface with MAS Ultra – School Edition selected:

Choose Databases screen

An EBSCO interface is a tool or “front end” that is used to search a selected database or multiple databases. For example, the EBSCOhost and Student Research Center interfaces can both be used to search various databases including MAS Ultra – School Edition and Middle Search Plus.

Here’s an example of the EBSCOhost interface searching the MAS Ultra – School Edition database:

EBSCOhost Interface

Some databases can be searched with different interfaces. For example, Business Source Complete can be searched using either the EBSCOhost or Business Searching interfaces. Regardless of the interface used to access the database, users will see the same content and results. Results may be “bucketed” differently or displayed to highlight special content within an interface.

Here is Business Source Complete on the EBSCOhost Interface:

Business Source Complete on EBSCOhost

Here is Business Source Complete on the Business Searching Interface:

Business Source Complete on the Business Searching Interface

In many cases, several databases can be searched at one time using a single interface. This can be done by selecting multiple databases on the Choose Databases screen.

Here is Academic Search Premier, Business Source Complete, and MasterFILE Complete searched simultaneously on the EBSCOhost interface:

Multiple Databases being searched

Some EBSCO databases have been created to be searched using specific interfaces. For example, the Literary Reference Center database was created to be searched using the Literary Reference Center interface but can also be searched using the EBSCOhost interface. Both interfaces will search the same information but the Literary Reference Center interface highlights special content found in the database.

Here is the Literary Reference Center interface search screen:

Literary Reference Center Interface

Here is the Literary Reference Center database being searched using the EBSCOhost interface:

Literary Reference Center on EBSCOhost

It may be helpful to think of a database as a single product that can be purchased at several different types of stores. The stores are interfaces that serve different segments of a population. Depending on the segment of the population being serviced, the product may be found in different places but it is the same exact item.