Choose a Database

Follow the steps below to find the best database for your research.

1. Determine what types of sources (journal articles, magazine articles, newspaper articles, books, etc.) you need for your assignment.

  • Example: Your assignment requires you to use a minimum of three scholarly articles as sources.

2. Brainstorm subject areas your topic falls under.

Who would be interested in your topic? Different subjects will bring different perspectives to your research.

  • Example: If you are interested in finding out more about air pollution, who might write about that? An expert in political science might write about public policies around regulating industries that cause air pollution. Meanwhile, an expert in public health might write about the relationship between air pollution and asthma.

3. Review the Library’s Find Articles Guide and select relevant subject-specific databases.

  • Example: If you know you need scholarly articles on air pollution from the political science field, PAIS Index would be a good starting point.
  • Tip: General databases are the best starting points when you do not have much background in a particular area. Subject-specific databases assume some background knowledge and tend to be a bit more advanced. Below are other examples of databases you might select based on the focus of your topic:
Topic Focus Narrower Focus Subject Area(s) Possible Database
Air Pollution None General Information Academic Search Ultimate
Air Pollution Air pollution and industry regulation Political Science PAIS Index
Air Pollution Air pollution and asthma rates Public Health Health Source: Consumer Edition

4. Also check what databases subject libraries recommend.

  • Example: If you’re doing research for a communications class, use the Communications Library website to find recommended databases.