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Choose a Database for Your Topic

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

1. Determine what types of sources (journal articles, magazine articles, newspapers 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

  • Example: If your topic is, “drugs,” think about what subject areas might encompass this issue depending on your focus (e.g. psychology, medicine and health, law, etc.).

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

  • Example: If you know you need scholarly articles on drugs from the psychology field, PsycINFO 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
Drugs None General Information Academic Search Ultimate
Drugs Peer pressure and drugs Education;
Psychology
Education Full Text;
PsycINFO
Drugs Physical problems of drug-addicted infants Medicine PubMed

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.