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Expert Searching

Which Databases to Use?

Database vs. Platform


A database indexes individual records with metadata. Records are searched through simple or complex queries. Bibliographic literature databases index scholarly literature. A search in a bibliographic literature database will return publications. Different databases index different sources, such as publishers and journals, and they vary in scope. A well-documented search in a database can be reproducible and transparent. Examples of a database: Embase, Scopus, Web of Science.


A platform is a search interface. It may host individual databases or simply act as a search engine. Platform searches are typically not reproducible, since it is unclear which databases were searched and how they were searched. Examples of a platform: EBSCOhost, ProQuest, Google, TRIP.


Be sure to keep sufficient records of your database searches so that you can appropriately report your search methodology. It is important that your searches are reproducible and documented.

Subject Databases

Different databases cover different content areas. Here are just a few database suggestions, organized by subject, to help you get started. You can also browse JH databases by subject using the button below.

JH Databases by Subject


Biological Sciences
Computer Science/Technology
Global Health
General Medical/Biomedical
History of Medicine
Public Health