Multi-Database Search

When you need to search for articles in scholarly journals, sometimes the choice of database is obvious.  You would search Art Full Text and perhaps Art Index Retrospective if your subject is art, American Chemical Society Journals if your subject is chemistry, PsycInfo if your subject is psychology, or America: History and Life or Historical Abstracts if your subject is history.  You might supplement this research by using an interdisciplinary resource such as Academic Search Complete, JSTOR, or Project Muse.

But you can also search multiple databases at once by using Multi-Database Search, known as Integrated Search or EBSCOhost Integrated Search on some CUNY campuses.  This option provides an alphabetical list, with descriptions, of databases, as well as the CUNY Libraries Catalog.  Simply check the boxes beside the resources you wish to search and then go to the Continue button at either the top or bottom of the list.

The more resources you select, the longer a search will take, but you are given the option of stopping a search and seeing the results gathered to that point.  Multi-Database Search, unfortunately, does not include all the electronic resources to which the Graduate Center subscribes, but more may be added  in the future.

Most searches in the humanities and social sciences should include JSTOR and Project Muse.  Searches in any humanities topic should include Humanities Source as well, and social science searches should include SocIndex, as well as subject-specific databases.

For example, a search for articles dealing with African-American fiction could include Black Thought and Culture, Essay and General Literature Index, Humanities Source, JSTOR, Literature Resources from Gale (which includes MLA), Project Muse, and Twayne’s Authors Online.  A search dealing with medieval historiography could include Historical Abstracts, Humanities Source, JSTOR, Philosopher’s Index, and Project Muse.  Researchers into the behavior of adolescents could search Education Source, JSTOR, Project Muse, PsycArticles, PsycBooks, PsycInfo, and SocIndex.

Searches involving a cross-disciplinary topic, such as gender studies, might include both humanities and social science resources.  Any search might also include the electronic-book databases ebook Collection and ebrary.  Searches for books could also include the CUNY Libraries Catalog and WorldCat.

Ways of refining searches will appear in the left column beside the search results.  Open the Subject option to narrow the topic.

When you are searching more than five databases, the search will occasionally bypass one or more of the resources you have selected.  If this happens, try the search again, and this glitch may disappear.

Google Scholar is an alternative means of searching multiple resources.  The results are not limited to sources to which the Graduate Center has access, but if Google Scholar is accessed from the library’s site, it will provide links to subscribed resources.

The library’s guide to Multi-Database Search may also be useful.  Additional such guides are also available.

For additional guidance in choosing and effectively using library resources, contact the subject specialist in your discipline.



About the Author

Michael Adams has been a reference librarian at the CUNY Graduate Center since 1996.