Database Searching Guide: Selecting Databases

Selecting a Database

The Libraries' website consists of approximately 1500 databases.  With so many databases and and so little time, how can you possible choose what to use?  There are several strategies.

First, as described in the page on the Best Portals for Searching for Articles, the Libraries' website offers a number of gateways for searching multiple databases at once.  These point you to some of the most important collections of information, but far from all of them.  You will learn from faculty and colleagues about some of the others, but the following methods can help you learn more about this growing collection.

Ask a Librarian. In fact, ask a couple of librarians, since there are many ways of looking at our rich collections.

Lists Compiled by Librarians.  These reflect the insights of the subject specialists, who have a good grasp of the information resources for the fields they cover.  You can find these in three different places:

  • Research Guides. Available from the Research Support menu on most library pages, they cover a wide variety of subject fields.
  • Departmental Library Pages.  These sometimes are the same as what is found on the Research Guides page, but not always, so it is worth taking a second look here.
  • Courseworks Research Guides. The Courseworks pages for you courses will frequently have a link to a research guide created especially for it, or at least for the department it represents.

Database Search Screen. The lists above require constant updating, and our collection is growing quickly.  The best way to keep up to date is to use this screen (which you can access by clicking on the down arrow next to the Search prompt on the main library page and then selecting the CLIO option at the bottom of the list.  This interface allows you to search for database descriptions containing particular keywords as well as to browse by broad subject areas, database types, or a combination of both.