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How to Begin Your Search

Your first decision when starting your GALILEO search

You may begin a search several ways in GALILEO:

At various times, you will probably use all of the search options listed above. But whenever you do research in GALILEO, you should be aware that some databases cover only one discipline (art/humanities, science, social sciences), or one or a few subjects, while some databases cover more than one discipline (multidisciplinary) and numerous subjects.

Think about what kind of source you need. A general rule of thumb – if you need a scholarly article, try to pick a specialized database. If you need a popular magazine article, pick a general index, described as covering all topics — that's where you'll find them. However, more and more, some general indexes, such as Academic Search Complete and Research Library (at ProQuest), include articles from scholarly journals.

Here are some general guidelines to help you decide.

General/Multi Subject Indexes Subject Specific Categories
  • Cover many topics within a database
  • Include full-text databases
  • Include databases with popular magazines
  • Databases are focused on one subject area or a few subject areas
  • Some databases include mostly bibliographic citations, some include citations and abstracts, and others are full text
  • Some databases index book chapters, unpublished papers, reports, and dissertations.

On the next two pages you'll find more detailed descriptions of general (all topics) indexes and subject specific categories, their strengths and weaknesses.

WANT MORE on scholarly article vs. popular?
primary source vs. secondary source?
> Unit 1 > Welcome to the Information Age

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