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Michigan State University

LB 492: Evolutionary Design: Using Databases

Which Database Should I Search?

Because your class topic (and probably your research topic!) is interdisciplinary, there are lots of possible places to find research and information. Here are some guidelines for choosing a database to try: 

1. If you're not entirely sure what you're looking for, or your topic is still fairly broad, try the databases listed in the "General Sources" box below. These databases contain articles from a range of scientific or science-related disciplines, so they'll cover a diverse set of topics and might give you some ideas for narrowing your research. 

2. If you have a pretty good idea of what you want to write about, think about what kind of researcher is most likely to be interested in your topic. You can follow the instructions below to find a database for a specific discipline, or try the "multi-disciplinary" databases if you're not finding what you need.

Keep in mind that the "Best Bets" databases at the top of the page will always be the most general on the list. So if you have a good idea of a specific topic, keep scrolling and see what else is there. (For example, if you're interested in marine biology, you can search in Scopus--but if you scroll down the "Biological Sciences" list, you'll see that there's also a database just for research on oceans and ocean wildlife). 

3. If you want to find what a specific author has written, or who has cited his/her work, try using the Author search in one of the general databases (Scopus has a good one). You can also try to search for an article you already have or have read (by searching for the title) to see who's cited it. Librarians call this "pearl searching;" it's a good way to find relevant articles, especially if you've found or read one article you particularly like. 

Finding Subject-Specific Databases

  1. Navigate to the library Databases page.
  2. Click on the dropdown menu on the left, which says "All Subjects." 

    databases page with the "All Subjects" dropdown menu at the top left

  3. Select the subject you're interested in. (Note: If you want to try a second subject, go back to the original Databases page and use the dropdown menu again. If you are looking at the Biological Sciences list, for example, using the dropdown menu from that page will only show you databases that appear in that list). 

General Databases

Michigan State University