Library Information Guide - Fort Wayne

Which Do I Pick?

When you begin searching for resources to use in your assignments, you'll most likely be headed towards our databases to locate useful, reliable, and relevant articles.

At Ivy Tech NE, you have hundreds of databases to choose from - so how do you know which one to pick?

There are several things to consider, including

  • The type of resource you're looking for
  • The subject of your assignment
  • How recent or new your topic is
  • How current your resources need to be

What is a Database?

A database is a collection of information organized for rapid search and retrieval by a computer. The information in a library database may consist of newspaper articles, journal articles, citations, encyclopedia entries, descriptions of books (as in the library catalog), etc. Some databases can cover many different topics at once, while others focus on one or two very specific topics.

Databases generally contain information that is not freely accessible on the internet. The Northeast Library, like many other academic and public libraries, pays for students to access databases which are useful in their research.

Searching for Specific Types of Resources

For some assignments, you might be asked to use a specific type of source in your research. For example, a history paper might require a primary source from someone who was there, or a medical assignment may ask for a case study or scholarly article.

Some of our databases let you choose the type of resource for your results, but others are specifically tailored for connecting you to particular sources. Others might give you several options, but can still be especially good when you're looking for something specific.

Limiting Searches by Resource Type

The Search Options or Limiters in a database will help you indicate the types of resources you need to find.

In the case of scholarly or peer-reviewed articles, most of the databases we have access to have this as a choice in the search options, as shown in EBSCOhost in the image at the right.

While peer-reviewed may be the type of resources you'll need to find most often, there will be assigments which ask you to locate other types of documents - and sometimes you'll need to scroll a little in order to find these limiters.

In most of the databases, there will be options to select the source, publication, or document type, which can help you find materials such as news articles, case studies, book reviews, editorials, and more.

Here's what to look for on EBSCOhost.

A couple of things to notice:

  1. You need to select the publication and document type for EACH database you're searching on EBSCOhost.
  2. You can select more than one publication or document type by holding the control (CTRL) button on your keyboard while you click.

These features show up in most databases - just look for any options that let you choose the type of source.

Specialized Databases

Some of our databases are specialized to help you find particular types of resources. Here are some examples:

Searching by Subject

Many of the databases we subscribe to focus on a specific field or range of topics, and leave out everything else.

For example, ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) only collects articles dealing with education.

If you're searching for articles about curriculum, college statistics, classroom management, teaching strategies, or anything else related to any level of education, ERIC is a great database to use.

On the other hand, if you're looking for information on heart attacks, government policies, average rainfall, famous artists, or anything else unrelated to education, you'll probably struggle if you use ERIC.

If you're having trouble finding articles, take a good look at which databases you're searching and make sure they are ones which are likely to contain information related to your topic.

Accessing Subject-Specific Databases

Some of our resources allow you to search many different databases at once. EBSCOhost, for example, gives you a page where you can select one or more databases to search. Some of these are generic databases which cover many different topics. Others are very specific (such as ERIC) and will only cover one or two subjects. Find out more about selecting databases on EBSCOhost on this guide. ProQuest and GALE also enable you to search several different databases, and you can choose the ones most relevant to your topic.

Other resources will search one specific database, and you'll need to locate the ones best-suited to your research.