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i-CONNECT: Step 3: Find Information: Databases: General vs Subject Sources

Quick Analogy: General vs Subject Databases

Shovel digging a hole in the ground

General article databases are like wide, shallow holes: lots of topics, but not always in depth.

Subject databases are like narrow, deep holes: focused topics, but in depth, comprehensive coverage. 

General Article Database

Is your topic general or cross-disciplinary? Currently in the news?

If so, start with a general article database. These cover a wide range of subjects and often include a mixture of popular and scholarly sources. This is often a good place to begin research. Examples of general databases and the kinds of articles they identify are:

Subject Database

Is your topic in a particular subject area?

If so, use a subject database. These databases specialize in a particular subject, and the articles are generally from scholarly sources. Examples of subject database are: 

Get Started

Get started with our Subject Guides to find the best sources for your topic.

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