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Library Research: How to select a database

Learn how to expand or narrow searches, use nesting, phrase searching, truncation and wildcards, proximity, and more

How to Select a Database and Start your Research

How to choose a database and start your research

When selecting a database, ask yourself these questions:

  • What academic discipline does your research fall under?
    • Does it fall under a specific subject like psychology, education, business/management?
    • Does it fall under a larger area such as social sciences?
  • From what perspectiveare you examining your topic?
    • Are you approaching it from a psychological or educational perspective?
  • What types of documents do you want to retrieve?
    • Are you looking for journal articles, books, conference papers, dissertations, or something else? 

After you have answered the above questions, try any of the following to help determine which databases to search:

  • View the "Top Databases" page in the LibGuide for your school
  • Read the description of the database from the library databases page.
  • Try searching all databases provided by particular vendors at once, such as all databases available from ProQuest or EBSCOHost.
  • Hint! Remember that your research is interdisciplinary. Try not to rely on just one database, no matter how consistently it provides quality results. Other databases may index journals not indexed by your favorite database.
  • You can always Ask A Librarian for tips and pointers as well!

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Research Strategy Worksheet