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Home: Choosing a Database

About Choosing Databases

Sometimes it can be hard to choose the right database for your research project.  Do you need a general database or a subject-specific tool?  Are you looking for journal articles, newspaper articles, ebooks, images, or something else?  This page will help you decide which research project is most likely to be helpful for your research needs.

These suggested lists are not comprehensive; not all available library resources are listed.  For specific research help, use the Contact Us box or email

Reference Resources

Reference sources, including reference databases and full-text electronic reference books, help students to better understand a topic to improve understanding before other research sources are explored.  It is difficult, if not impossible, to produce a quality research assignment on a topic that is not well understood.  By using reference sources, students can develop better research questions, construct more effective searches, and more effectively produce quality coursework.

Streaming Media

The library subscribes to streaming media products to provide our students with access to media materials in an convenient and easy to use medium.  Streaming audio and video may be used on or off campus by members of the campus community.

General Article Databases

General article indexes are broad research tools, encompassing multiple types of resources and multiple areas and disciplines of study.  General databases may include general readership periodicals, scholarly journals, and/or news sources in their collections.  Because of their wide scope, general databases are often the preferred starting point for student research queries.


eBooks are full-text books which are delivered to the patron via web interface rather than sitting on the shelf.  Currently, the library collections include around 500,000 eBooks from a variety of publishers.  Some eBooks may be downloaded for offline reading via computer or mobile devices; others must be read through the database portal.

Subject-Specific Databases

Like general research databases, subject-specific databases encompass a broad array of different types of information sources.  Unlike a general database, though, the information in a subject database is focused on a particular discipline.  Subject databases are helpful for finding information on topics within a field.

Scholarly Sources

Scholarly journals, also known as peer-reviewed or academic journals, represent the foundation of academic discourse and scholarship.  Written by experts in a field for experts in a field, articles in scholarly journals are subject to a vigorous pre-publication process known as peer-review to help ensure that the articles presented are of high quality.  Scholarly journals are often the preferred sources for academic work.


News sources capture current happenings and events at the local, domestic, and international levels.  News sources are updated frequently, sometimes even multiple times per day.  While news articles tend to be brief, news articles are an excellent source for research on contemporary issues, current controversies, and evolving issues.  Newspapers also provide valuable historical insight on key events and individuals active on local, national, and international stages.  The moon landing, the Cuban Missile Crisis, 9/11, and more can all be explored through historical newspaper articles.

Primary Source Archives

Primary source archives provide access to digitized content from primary sources, primarily in American history but other sources as well.


Statistical data is useful for students and faculty in many disciplines.  Statistics sources can be useful for finding data, analysis, infographics, and more.

Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library
59 College Ave.
Buckhannon, WV 26201