Did you know that you can access more than 700 research databases through FSU Libraries? What is your favorite database? And what databases do your peers or professors use? When Google Scholar appears to be everyone’s go-to, why do you need to use research databases? Let’s talk about it.
Hello, my name is Kyung Kim. I am one of the Social Science Librarians working at FSU Libraries. An important part of my job is to inform the faculty and students about where to search for and access the literature they need for their assignments, learning, instructions, or research. I checked the stats and found the top 10 most popular databases on the Libraries’ Database A-Z page from October 2021 to September 2022- here’s what I found!
Top 10 Most Used Databases
- Academic Search Complete
- Web of Science
- APA PsycInfo (ProQuest)
- PubMed (NLM)
- ProQuest Databases
- APA PsycInfo
- Business Source Complete
- ERIC (ProQuest)
Given the often seemingly endless hours you put into finding relevant articles or books for your research, knowing the pros and cons of the research databases and when to use which would enhance the quality of your academic life. Here are some quick tips on the top 10 databases!
Quick Tips! The Pros & Cons of the Most Used Databases
JSTOR is a good place to access peer-reviewed journal articles or books in the humanities and social sciences, but be aware that it often does not provide access to the most current issues. If you are looking for the latest research findings or the most recent publications on a topic, do not settle with JSTOR. See if the recent issues of the journal are available through the Libraries; if not, we recommend you use our Interlibrary Loan service to get the articles for free.
A multi-subject database, the Academic Search Complete is a good starting place if you do not know where to search, and the goal of your search is to select a few good ones by checking the breadth and not the depth of the literature on the topic.
If you are looking for the most cited papers or hot papers on a certain topic or in a subject area published in reputable, cream-of-the-crop scholarly journals, the Web of Science is your go-to. This premium database is also great for identifying a bibliographic network of who cites whom, but the search interface is not too intuitive. Besides, if you are an Arts and Humanities major, this might not be the database your professors use highly.
Do you want to search multiple databases all at once? This so-called “federated search” is available at the EBSCOhost and ProQuest Databases. EBSCO and ProQuest are two of the leading providers of academic research databases where you can search scholarly articles, eBooks, images, reports, etc., from Anthropology to Zoology. Through the FSU Libraries’ EBSCOhost database, you can search 86 databases simultaneously, and at the ProQuest Databases, 92 databases. Use these databases when you are in the mode of searching for everything, everywhere, all at once.
But why bother when you only need articles or books published in your subject areas? The Top 10 List shows that FSU researchers tend to search the APA PsycInfo for psychology literature; the PubMed (NLM) for biomedical literature; the Business Source Complete for business, and the ERIC (ProQuest) for education.
Not on the Top 10 List, but the Social Science Premium Collection database is something social science dissertation or thesis writers might want to try. There you can search 55 databases in various social science fields simultaneously. The Libraries subscribe to many other specialized databases for the university community. Having free access to rich scholarly content through subscription databases is one of the privileges of FSU members!
So, when in doubt, ask your subject librarian to learn where to search first, what search terms to use, and how to get and organize the materials you need! The librarian might also give you time-saving tips, such as when to use extra caution in evaluating certain sources and how to take full advantage of Google Scholar as a springboard to discover hidden gems in the library databases. You can request a one-on-one research consultation with librarians and meet them online or in person.
Good luck and happy searching!
This blog post was written by Kyung Kim, Social Sciences Librarian at FSU Libraries.