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Database Search Skills: Identify Relevant Databases

Library databases overview

A library database is a searchable digital collection of different types of materials such as books, journals, magazines, newspapers, reports, etc. We have paid subscriptions to over 100 library databases. These paid subscription databases make up the majority of the Walden Library. 

Different companies have different materials in their library databases. The materials are put in the databases and assigned specific terms, or cataloged, to help users locate them. This is a controlled vocabulary, so that items that fit in certain topic areas can be found. The database content is indexed, organized and searchable with controlled vocabulary. This makes searches more precise than a search engine on the Internet, which uses natural language, or keywords.  Also, subscription content is typically not available for free on the Internet.

 

These Quick Answers have more information: 

Decide which databases to try

Often, the most relevant database will be in the subject area you are studying.  Sometimes, though, your topic may also be covered in other subject areas. If you are not sure where to begin, try the multiple database search tool Thoreau. That will give you an idea of which subject databases to try. 

Search Tip: There is no best database. The databases you use are based on your research needs. Since different journals are in different databases, don't always use one database. You might be missing out on valuable research!

Think about where your topic might be researched:

Topic Idea Where you think it might be     Other Possible Subject Databases
Resiliency Psychology     Education, Nursing, Business, Multidisciplinary
Online Education Education     Business,  Multidisciplinary
Organizational Culture Business     Health Sciences, Psychology, Education

 

Identify what type of material you need to find. Here are a few examples: 

Type of material you need     Databases you might try
Newspapers or magazines (popular press)     ProQuest, Regional Business News
Scholarly or peer-reviewed articles     Academic Search Complete, PsycINFO, Education Source, SocINDEX 
Books     ProQuest Ebook Central

 

For more information, please see:

Find Library databases by subject area

On the subject research page for a subject area, explore the list of databases, and the other resources available there too. Be sure to read the database description to learn what the database holds and whether it will meet your needs. 

These Quick Answers give instructions on locating the Library databases: 

Subject vs. multidisciplinary databases

Subject-specific databases focus on one area, while multidisciplinary include different subject areas. 

Multidisciplinary databases are a good place to start if you don't know which subject area your topic may fit.

Thoreau is a database search tool that includes many, but not all, of our database subscriptions. 

It can be useful to start with a multidisciplinary search and then go into the subject-specific databases. The subject databases will have more advanced search limiters, and more relevant subject terms. 

Multiple database search tool: Thoreau

The search box on the Library homepage is our multiple database search tool, Thoreau. Thoreau searches most, but not all, of our databases. It's a good place to start when you are not sure which subject database might have articles on your topic. It is also a great place to go for a broader search when you are getting few results in a subject database.