This is a great question, and indeed a challenge when there are so many databases to choose from. The reality is that you will likely need to consult multiple databases during your research process. However, you can make informed decisions about which database to use by asking the following questions:
Our databases may have multidisciplinary coverage or a more specific focus. You can find databases that relate to a particular discipline by viewing the Research Guides. You will likely see some overlap in the databases listed in our guides, and that is because the databases often cover multiple subjects. Once you are viewing the guides, read the database descriptions to see if it’s relevant to your research needs. Some labels say “Popular,” or “Best Bet,” which could indicate that it’s more closely related to the subject covered in the guide.
You can also filter databases by subject on the Databases and Electronic Resources page.
For your research paper, you may need to locate online or print scholarly journals, newspapers or popular magazines, and books. Some databases hold multiple types of resources; others may offer just one. You can read the types of materials available in the database description or filter by database type on the Databases and Electronic Resources page.
While not always the case, you can sometimes make more efficient use of your time by searching a more extensive database. This is why we often recommend starting with Academic Search Ultimate because it offers over 9,000 peer-reviewed journals, which is the largest electronic resource collection we have available. However, databases with a subject focus will provide more refined search results, and save you time because you don't need to sift through hundreds of results.
If you want to search for individual journals or magazines, you can choose a database based on its coverage of that periodical. Go to “Journals (A-Z)” and search the title of the journal or a journal keyword. In the search results, you will see whether we have full text available. If we have multiple databases that house a journal or magazine, note the coverage field to see whether we have current issues or select date ranges.