Database Selection for Biologists
Selecting Which Library Databases to Search
Choosing the best database to search is often a challenge. Here are some questions to consider when choosing which databases to search:
What Topics Are Covered?
Is it a specialized database covering a specific subject - e.g. zoology, biophysics, neuroscience, medicine? or does it provide more general coverage?
What Kinds of Documents Are Indexed?
- Journals, magazines, books, book chapters, dissertations, images, maps, geospatial data, statistical tables, sounds files?
- Scholarly, popular – or both?
What Time Periods?
1997-present? Or all the way back into the 1800’s? And how frequently is it updated – daily, weekly, monthly?
What Is the Overall Scope of the Database?
Some of the libraries’ databases (e.g. Pubmed, Worldcat) provide citations to tens of millions of records while others cover just a handful of journals (e.g. BioOne).