The key to finding the right database is knowing what's in it. Here are some questions to ask about any database before you use it.
What Subject Area(s) Does It Cover?
Note what subject areas are covered to ensure that you are using the correct database for your topic.
In addition, your choice of database will influence the kind of analysis you're likely to find. Searching for "family structure" will get different results if you use PsycInfo (psychological studies) or ERIC (education literature).
What Date Range Does it Cover?
Most databases only cover materials published in the last few decades; there's usually a specific cutoff date. If you're looking for articles or research from before that date, you'll need to use a different database.
In a few databases, you also need to ask "How recent does it get?" Databases of historical materials usually don't go up to the present. And some databases simply exclude the most recent year or two of all journal articles.
What Types of Material Does It Cover?
Most databases index scholarly journal articles, but many cover other types of content, either in addition to or instead of. Some common material types include:
magazine or newspaper articles
Adapted from Choosing and Using Library Databases guide created by UCLA Library
Includes full text for more than 1,700 journals, 550 books and monographs, and education-related conference papers. Coverage spans all levels of education from early childhood to higher education and includes educational specialties such as multilingual education, health education and testing.
Provides full text for nearly 4,000 scholarly publications, including full text for more than 3,100 peer-reviewed journals in a wide variety of academic study and offers information dating as far back as 1975.
JSTOR is a 'high-quality, interdisciplinary archive of scholarship, is actively preserving over one thousand academic journals in both digital and print formats' in the areas of language, literature, mathematics, music, anthropology, sociology, art, education, sciences, business, and political science.
This collection contains databases covering the international literature in the social sciences, including politics, sociology, social services, anthropology, criminology and education. Provides abstracts, indexing and full text coverage of journal articles, books, book chapters, dissertations, working papers and more, including deep indexing and full text from over 1000 social science journals.
A compilation of the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Anthropological Index and Harvard University's Anthropological Literature databases, this index covers the fields of anthropology, archaeology, and related interdisciplinary research.
An online portal serving the research, teaching and practicing needs of anthropologists. Offers access to more than 100 years of anthropological knowledge, as well as current content from AAA's diverse portfolio of 32 anthropological publications which includes journals, books, monographs, bulletins and newsletters.
Provides access to international literature in psychology and related disciplines such as psychiatry, education, business, medicine, nursing, pharmacology, law, linguistics, and social work from professional journals, books, and reports.
Full text for 708 journals dating back to 1908, and includes more than 780 books and monographs, and full text for 9,333 conference papers. Provides abstracts of journal articles, books, book chapters, dissertations, conference papers and book reviews in sociology and related disciplines.
Abstracts and indexes literature of sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences, with over 2,000 journals as well as abstracts from conference papers, dissertations, and books, and a backfile that begins in 1952.