Here are some guideposts to help you navigate this decision:
- Consider your topic carefully - most topics don't live in a bubble of just one discipline or field. Think about what disciplines might relate to or have a great impact on your topic. Different disciplines and their corresponding databases provide access to different resources, researchers who bring different perspectives and help you build a much more rounded and complete picture to serve as the foundation for your own research or opinions.
- Subject databases vs. multi-disciplinary databases
Consider the type of resources you need: books, scholaryly articles, statistics, legal cases, etc. Some databases focus on a limited number of publication types while others offer a broad range.
- A subject database such as Criminal Justice Abstracts, is one that focuses on a specific discipline or field of study. Sometimes they even focus on a smaller, specialized area within a discipline. They tend to have a deep collection of resources on that one discipline/subject.
- A multi-disciplinary database is one that covers a broad range of disciplines and fields of study. While as a whole these databases have a vast number of resources, the number within each individual discipline/subject that it covers are much smaller than a subject database would cover. However, using a multi-disciplinary databse is a great way to connect to other disciplines related to your topic that might not have considered.
Key take away: You should always use multiple databases and resources if you want to succeed with any research project.