November 30th, 2007

Why Are There So Many Databases? And How Do I Choose?

When you look at Databases A-Z you may think to yourself: there are so many databases, how do I know which one to pick? At this moment there are 31 databases and tools linked on the list. That’s a lot to look at.

So, do you just pick one and use it for every assignment, or do you start at the top and keep going until you’ve found what you need? Of course not. Each database has a unique collection of resources. Knowing which databases to use for your particular research needs is something you’ll learn as you go through your program.

Here are some tips to help you select a database:

  • Look at the Audience and Description areas on the list. This will help you decide if the database has the types of resources you want.


  • Keep track of which databases worked well for past topics. If you know what worked well in the past, you can use that information to choose a database for similar topics in the future.
  • Pick based on your Topic, not your degree program. In Human Services but looking for information about non-profit management? That’s actually a business topic. You’ll want to use ABI/INFORM, a business database.
  • Try multiple databases. You may need to try two or three databases to find all the articles you need.
  • Ask A Librarian. The Librarians selected these databases and search in them every day. We can help you choose the best one based on your exact research needs.


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