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Database Selection

How to choose a database to start researching on my topic? This guide provides answers to the question.

Know What's in a Database!

Man with different tools with text "The right tools for the right job"

The key to selecting the right database is knowing what's in it. Here are some questions to ask about any database before you use it. 

What Subject Area(s) does it cover?  ⇒ Browse Database By Subject

Note what subject areas are covered to ensure that you are using the right database for your topic. Searching for engineering articles in PsycArticles (a psychology database) won't get you far. 

What Date Range does it cover?

Most databases only cover materials published in the last few decades; there's usually a specific cutoff date. If you're looking for articles or research from before that date, you'll need to use a different database.

In a few databases, you also need to ask "How recent does it get?" Databases of historical materials usually don't go up to the present. And some databases simply exclude the most recent year or two of all journal articles.

What Types of Material does it cover?  ⇒ Browse Database By Type

Most databases index scholarly journal articles, but many cover other types of content, either in addition to or instead of. Some common material types include:

  • magazine or newspaper articles
  • books
  • book chapters
  • statistical data
  • images, audio, or video                                  

Use General / Multiple-Topic databases

Start with a database in the General / Multiple-Topic box in the Database By Subject guide. The databases in this box have content that covers a wide range of topics and they are also in different content types. 

  • Need background information on your topic?   ⇒ Try Credo Reference, Gale Virtual Reference Library, or Issues & Controversies‚Äč

  • Need newspaper articles only?   ⇒ Try National Newspaper Core, Newstand, or Los Angeles Times

  • Need journal articles as well as newspaper and magazine articles?   ⇒ Try Academic Search Premier, ProQuest Research Library, JSTOR, Project MUSE, OmniFile Full Text Mega

  • Need online educational videos?   ⇒ Try Films on Demand, Kanopy Streaming Media

What about EbscoHost and ProQuest?

EbscoHost and ProQuest aren't databases. They're companies that host databases. Lots of databases. Their logos appear prominently on the web pages, but knowing which vendor you used doesn't really help narrow the options if you're trying to retrace your search results. 

ebscohost database            ProQuest PsycARTICLES