DATABASE SEARCHING TECHNIQUE : DATABASE SELECTION : RESEARCH SKILLS AND TRAINING: Improving Research by Broading Database Selection Horizons Beyond the Core Databases in Ones Field and Thinking Outside the Box: What Constitutes Good Databases?

David P. Dillard





Improving Research by Broading Database Selection Horizons
Beyond the Core Databases in Ones Field and Thinking
Outside the Box: What Constitutes Good Databases?



What constitutes a quality database:



1. Is the database have adequate search capability. I have run into search interfaces that interpret the boolean "or" as "and" or that
cannot handle phrase searches and even cannot do but the simplest
search statements. One can do more complex searches on Google than on
those tools.

2. Does the database cover core content about its subject area from journals and other publications in other fields.

Consider this article title:

Finding citations to social work literature: the relative benefits of using web of science, scopus, or google scholar

This article could be very useful to social work and other faculty in related fields who need to credential their work.

This article is indexed, amongst other places, in Inspec, one of two databases, the other being Compendex, in Elsevier's "Engineering Village".

This article is NOT indexed in Social Services Abstracts or in Social Work Abstracts or Social Services Abstracts, two core Social Work databases.

The article appeared in Journal of Academic Librarianship, v 38, n 6, p 370-9, Nov. 2012

The two social work databases do not index any of the content from this journal.


Finding tourism and hospitality core content in the Criminal Justice Abstracts

We are not talking about core criminal justice content here like "My merry adventures as a prison escapee." We are looking at core content in tourism such as ecotourism sources and the like.


Criminal Justice Abstracts

A search of this database for tourism OR tourist OR tourists OR museums OR travel OR vacation OR vacations OR vacationing OR "visitor sites of interest" OR ecotourism OR hospitality

FINDS 3,122 Results

Sample Titles

Convenience stores and routine activities in a summer tourist destination

Hair drug testing in the new Brazilian regulation to obtain professional driver's licence: no parallel to any other law enforcement in the world.

Cruise Ship Law in Australia.

Queen Elizabeth II will attend Magna Carta anniversary ceremonies at Runnymede.

Understanding college student spring break drinking: Demographic considerations, perceived norms and travel characteristics.

Start of nocturnal migratory restlessness in captive birds predicts nocturnal departure time in free-flying birds. [bird tourism?]
[criminal justice???]

Foraging distribution of a tropical seabird supports Ashmole's hypothesis of population regulation.

A Trade Based View on Casino Taxation: Market Conditions.

Book Review: Urry J. and Larsen J., The Tourist Gaze 3.0.

Health Care Reception Welcomes Conference Attendees.

Influence of the Built Environment on Pedestrian Route Choices of Adolescent Girls.

Home, Car Use, and Vacation: The Structure of Environmentally Significant Individual Behavior.



ProQuest Criminal Justice

A search of this database for tourism OR tourist OR tourists OR museums OR travel OR vacation OR vacations OR vacationing OR "visitor sites of interest" OR ecotourism OR hospitality

FINDS 3,937 Results

Sample Titles

Identifying critical service quality attributes for higher education in hospitality and tourism: Applications of the Kano model and importance-performance analysis (IPA)

Engaging students' learning process in business management: A case study of activity-based teaching in hospitality marketing class

Risk management within the events industry in Cape Town, South Africa

Community-based tourism and local socio-economic development: A case study in Cape Verde

Internet success for the small and medium hospitality enterprise: Influence of the owner or manager

Promoting Ecotourism Among Young People: A Segmentation Strategy

A Socio-Ecological Assessment Aiming at Improved Forest Resource Management and Sustainable Ecotourism Development in the Mangroves of Tanbi Wetland National Park, The Gambia, West Africa

Lessons from the application of sustainability indicators to community-based ecotourism ventures in Southern Africa


Academic libraries and their colleges or universities spend a great deal of money on databases and amount of use of these tools is a key reason for leasing or not leasing access ot these tools. Encouraging off prescription use for these tools when there is content to back the advice may significantly expand the use of these tools and better justify their retention.


3. Does the database provide multi-step searching like OVID, EbscoHost, the current Worldcat First Search interface and if you look hard enough Proquest. They have managed to hide that feature quite well at Proquest. Databases that permit only one step searches force users to either do very simple searches or on the other hand they are forced to accurately construct complex boolean algebra statements. This makes such tools less usable.


4. How good is the subject field coverage of a database in its field(s) of coverage.


5. Does the database have the ability to find one word in so many words of another. If you are searching for literature reviews on a topic and do not also search review(s) of the literature as well as literature survey and survey of the literature you may miss some important bibliographies. Proximity searching allows one to find these two words say ten words apart so the one may find sources with phrases like "review of the most important and significant literature" or "review of the British and French literature" and so forth. Putting all four phrases in a search tool like Google does not leave much room for other search terms. The single step search can be very limiting search tool obstacle.


6. A feature called truncation allows one to put a symbol, often the asterisk, at the end of a word root and pick up variant endings of a word root. For example relig* will find religion, religions, religious, religiously, etc. One must use this tool with care. A search of China and hospital* may find some great articles about medical care in China, but it also may find some very intersting articles about Asian restaurants as one word off of that truncated word root is hospitality.


In EBSCOHost, this formula can be used with many search steps to follow, as needed, for cutting our literature review seaarch terms down to size:

(literature n10 review*) or (survey* n10 literature)

to find such phrases such as surveying the literature, literature surveys, reviewing the literature and so forth.


7. The ability to limit concepts or groups of concepts to specific database record fields, such as, but not limited to, title of the article or book, subject headings, year of publication or a year range, sources that are peer reviewed and from journals only and so forth. Good databases permit more than one of these methods to be used in combination


The ability to streamline a search to a very limited group of results that are on target will both speed ones work and reduce the fatigue that comes from looking at very long lists of sources from which a low percentage are worth pursuing. There is a learning curve, but it is worth that curve to end up with the quality results one needs for ones research.


I have published a number of articles about database searching that should
add to the information above.

My research guides also will help in this area

Research Guide Directory



David Dillard
Temple University
(215) 204 - 4584


Research Guides




Articles by David Dillard

Information Literacy (Russell Conwell Center Guide)

Nina Dillard's Photographs on Net-Gold

Twitter: davidpdillard

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Bushell, R. & Sheldon, P. (eds),
Wellness and Tourism: Mind, Body, Spirit,
Place, New York: Cognizant Communication Books.
Wellness Tourism: Bibliographic and Webliographic Essay
David P. Dillard

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