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Choosing databases for the
Agricultural Sciences

Articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals are important for finding the most current and concise research information for your topic. The best way to find those articles is to use a database. But which one will you choose?

Choosing a Database

  • What type of periodical (scholarly or popular) is required or most appropriate? Look at your assignment!
  • Think carefully about possible terms, synonyms, and alternate spellings for your topic. Try to use the jargon and language of the field.

How do I know if it is from a Scholarly (Research; Peer-Reviewed) Journal?

  • The articles will include reports of original research, review articles, and information aimed at experts in the field.
  • The articles will have footnotes and cited references.
  • What does peer-reviewed mean? In order to be accepted for publication, articles must be reviewed by a group of peers in the field. The reviewers are not agreeing or disagreeing with the article, but reviewing the methodology to be sure that it is sound. This is the only category of periodical where this type of rigorous review is required.

Once you have determined which type of source is needed, choose your database(s) accordingly.

AGRICOLA is an agriculture database produced by the U.S. National Agricultural Library. It covers agriculture and related subjects including animal and plant science, entomology, agronomy, horticulture, rural sociology, agricultural economics, family living, food and nutrition. The following are indexed: journal articles, books, book chapters, USDA, State Experiment Station, State Extension service publications. There are several ways to access Agricola through the Community of Science (OSU), through EBSCO or at the National Agricultural Library (free global access), Each search interface has advantages and disadvantages. Your best bet is to choose one and perfect your searching through it. Use the others in case you can not reach your first choice. Ask your librarian about the differences.

Biological and Agricultural Index covers 150 journals in general agriculture, botany and zoology. It is a good index to use if you need only a few detailed articles on a topic within agriculture.

Biological Abstracts (BIOSIS) is THE premier database for all of biology and covers microbiology, biochemistry, and human biology particularly well. Covering 1985-present, it is updated quarterly.

CAB Abstracts is an electronic database that brings together the information from all of the individual discipline based indexes published by CABI Publishing. It provides excellent coverage of all aspects of the agricultural sciences (plant sciences, animal sciences, entomology, forestry, agricultural economics, nutrition, agricultural engineering, veterinary medicine). CAB Abstracts includes the information from all of the print indexes that CABI published including: Animal Breeding Abstracts, Index Veterinarius, and Veterinary Bulletin. Covering 1973-present, it is updated daily. This database also contains a new database specifically for veterinary medicine called Vet Med Resource. This source contains full-text references, as well.

Medline is a medical and biomedical database compiled by the National Library of Medicine. It contains more than 11 million records covering 1966 to the present focusing on primary literature. Medline records describe journals (articles, editorials, letters, and commentaries), conference proceedings (papers, poster sessions, and presentations), book chapters, government guidelines, etc. The link in this description will take you to a page that describes Medline and gives you three search interface choices available to the OSU community: PubMed, EBSCO, and Web of Science. PubMed is freely available without a subscription. If you link directly to PubMed from off campus (without going through the proxy server); however, you will not be entitled to link through to the full-text online journals.

This page was updated by Lynne Simpson, Assistant Professor/Agricultural Sciences Librarian. This page was designed by Heather K. Moberly, Associate Professor/Veterinary Medicine Librarian.

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Last Updated: June 26, 2007