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Outreach: Introduction to College Research: Article Databases

What is a Database?

A database is an online collection of millions of articles that you can search with a simple searchbox the same way that you do in Google.

Articles come from newspapers, popular magazines, scholarly peer-reviewed journals or other sources.  The databases listed in the right column are your best bets for this course.

Scholarly, Trade and Popular Sources


Scholarly Journals

     Trade Publications     (Industry Magazines)

          Popular Newspapers           and Magazines

   Appearance   (Cover)


  Exciting industry-specific scenes


   Appearance   (Inside)

 Black and white inside with few pictures

Colorful with lots of pictures

 Colorful with lots of pictures


To report research findings and build on the academic literature

To help professionals keep up with changes in their field (new products and trends)

To inform, entertain and grab your interest


Researchers and professionals


Regular people


Researchers, usually associated with a university

Professionals in a field (dentists, law enforcement officers and HVAC professionals)




Sounds “academic” and usually includes the word “journal”

- New England Journal of Medicine

- Journal of Clinical Child Psychology

Sounds “professional”.  May include the word “journal” in the title but does not look like a journal.

- Massage Today

- Community College Journal

- Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

Short title that usually sounds “fun”. 

- New York Times (newspaper)

- Washington Post (newspaper)

- People (magazine)

- Time (magazine)



Industry-specific ads (kitchen equipment, massage tables and dental hygiene instruments)

Flashy ads for products that would interest most people (cars, food and clothes)





Editing Process

Peer Review

Basic editing

Basic editing


Reliable, high-quality academic research

Easier to read and more current than scholarly journals

Newspapers are printed daily and magazines usually monthly


Peer review process takes time, so articles may take months to publish

Written by professionals in the field but does not go through an extensive editing process

Not very reliable and could include opinions.  Some newspapers and magazines are better than others (Wall Street Journal and National Enquirer)

Article Databases

Here are a few databases that you may find particularly helpful:

Research Tips

Pick a focused topic.  Your search will be easier and your topic will be more interesting if you can focus it.  Your paper should answer a question or argue a point.

Keep your search simple.  Entering too many search terms may eliminate good results.

Only search for words that you actually want to find.  For example, don't search for "articles about drug errors involving insulin", because this will look for articles containing all six terms.  A simple search for "drug errors" AND insulin will give you better results.

Aim for between 50 and 500 results, depending on how specific your topic is.  If you get 10,000 results, try being more specific.  If you get only a handful, try broadening your search or changing your search terms.  Try different search strategies to see which ones work best for your topic.

Ask for help!  Librarians are happy to help!