How useful cross-database search tools are?

When there is a need to find something in bibliographic databases, it can be quite challenging to find the most appropriate and useful databases from the huge supply. Sometimes you have to try out dozen of databases with no results at all until you get to something useful. To facilitate this task you can use cross-database search tools.

Cross database search tools are search tools with which user can look through many bibliographic databases at the same time. With these tools it is possible to look through many sources at once. In some cases it is very useful tool, but at the same time they usually can come along with some problems.

It is true that these tools can help to find a lot of documents very fast, but it can also be a disadvantage at the same time. You will probably find few thousands of documents by using regular keywords, but most of them won’t be useful. Also it is very complicated to narrow the search results this way. If you go through each database one by one, you can use expanded search, but with cross-database tools it is almost impossible, because each database has different searching options. For example, one database might enable to limit documents by methodology used in the study, but other may enable to limit documents by section or other aspects. This leads to a inefficient results, because you will find bunch of documents which includes the used keywords, but the topic might be completely different from what you need.

Of course, some tools are more efficient than the others. If you want to try out these tools you can use such cross-database tools as Cross Search, Discovery, Primo Central etc. These are some of the best ones, because there is some chance of narrowing the results, but there are many others beside these ones. You can test them and decide by yourself, which one of them is the best one and the most useful one. By testing, also you can understand if you want to use them at all.

My advice would be to use cross-database search tools only in situations when, the theme is narrow itself, and there is a small chance to find anything useful in most of the databases. In this case these tools will help you to find some documents at all, and you will save some time on going through bunch of useless databases, but if there is a loud of information in most of the databases then better search one by one. You won’t save any time if you will have to look through thousands of useless documents.