Database Analysis

Database Analysis-EBSCOhost & ProQuest

Part 1-Content Analysis


  • EBSCOhost covers a wide range of different databases from different fields. Not only does it aggregate some more popular ones (i.e. MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and Biography Reference Bank), it also offers access to some smaller, lesser-known databases (i.e. Library Literature & Information Science Full-Text (H.W. Wilson) and SPORTDiscus)
  • ProQuest covers a smaller number of databases than EBSCOhost, but the databases it does aggregate are more specialized, including the college dissertations/theses database for where you are attending. This specialization of databases helps ProQuest become “central to research around the world” (ProQuest Help-Overview, 2015)


  • EBSCOhost is part of EBSCO Industries, Inc., started in 1944 and is still the number one privately held, family-owned company in the US (About EBSCO-Who we are, 2015)
  • ProQuest has grown out of the need for a one-stop source of information to help librarians and researchers. The combination of companies started by leaders in the library and book world traces its roots to 1872 and R.R. Bowker and later such names as Melville Dewey (Creator of the Dewey Decimal Classification system) (ProQuest History and Milestones, 2015)


  • EBSCOhost is accurate, with abstracts, subject terms, and authors of articles all accurate descriptors for the selected article. There is also the option on clicking on any of the fields in the search results, and being directed to more articles by the author (generates search that looks like this-AU “author’s name”). Most databases are updated weekly or daily.
  • ProQuest, like EBSCOhost, is also accurate according to the abstracts, subject terms and authors of articles. The same option to click on any subject term or author name allows the user to expand their original search (generates search that looks like this-au(Pawley, Christine). Databases are updated at least on a yearly basis, with specific databases being updated at different frequencies.


  • EBSCOhost arranges materials automatically by relevance of the search terms,although this can be changed by the user
  • ProQuest arranges materials automatically by relevance of the search terms, although this can be changed by the user

Special Features:

  • EBSCOhost has a mobile app that allows you to access their service from anywhere. They also offer customization at the Administration level, allowing for branding according to your institution, creating your own links in the database, and API (EBSCO-User Experience Design, 2015)
  • ProQuest also has a mobile site, for smartphones, and they recently updated the overall ProQuest Digital site to be compatible on tablets.

Part 2-Search Analysis

For this search analysis, I will be comparing and contrasting Art Index (H.W. WIlson) from EBSCOhost and International Bibliography of Art (IBA) from ProQuest.

Record Structure: The record structure is a “pre-established sequence of fields and subfields used to describe a single item in a bibliographic database” (Reitz, ODLIS, 2014). This includes metadata (data about data) such as: journal title, volume number, and page numbers. In Art Index (H.W. Wilson), the record structure is: author(s), source, document type, subjects, artists & work, ISSN, and Accession Number. In International Bibliography of Art (IBA), the record structure is: author, title, publisher, publication title, publication year, physical description, document type, ISSN, language, classification (English & French), subject (English & French), Accession Number, ProQuest document ID, document URL, and database. As you can see, it is quite obvious that IBA provides a more detailed record structure, which can enable the user to have better recall and precision of items if they need to recreate or find again works from the database. You can also search for all the fields in the record in your initial search in both databases, and there are others that are provided for you as part of an advanced or command line search (these are both ways of narrowing down your search to it’s most specific). All in all, I would have to say that based on record structure alone, IBA is far superior to Art Index (H.W. Wilson) in that you have many more options for locating specific works (i.e. from a specific year, specific journal, etc.).

Advanced Search: An advanced search is a type of search that allows the user to narrow down even further what types of materials to retrieve from the database based on specific criteria and certain words and symbols that can be added to search terms. For both Art Index (H.W. Wilson) and IBA, you can use the Boolean Operators AND, OR, & NOT to limit your search results, as well as the proximity operator N/n (meaning the search will turn up related results that have your keywords near each other within so many words). IBA goes farther in terms of proximity operators, using NEAR/n, PRE/n or P/n, EXACT or X. They both use the ‘?’ as a wildcard symbol, with Art Index (H.W. Wilson) also using ‘#’ as one. Both databases also use the ‘*’ symbol for truncation. After a quick review of IBA‘s Search Tips (from the Help section, 2015), I see that this database uses many more specific symbols as added ways to make sure that your search results are what you are looking for, besides the standard ones listed above. This puts IBA‘s advanced search capabilities far above those of Art Index (H.W. Wilson).

Limits, Filters & Options: From a basic search standpoint, Art Index (H.W. Wilson) allows for 5 different ‘searching modes’-Boolean/phrase, find all my search terms, find any of my search terms, SmartText searching and apply related words. You can limit your results by linked full-text, publication, publication date range, scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals, publication and document type (from a drop-down list of provided choices) and ISSN number. IBA is different, in that you can only limit by full-text and peer-reviewed from their main search page of all databases, but when you do an advanced search in IBA, you get your search options. They are: publication date, subject heading (with a list of all used in the databases), source and document type, language, country of publication, sort results by, items per page, and duplicates. Of the two databases, I would have to say that Art Index (H.W. Wilson) provides a better basic search interface for the new/newer user, while IBA covers more of what a researcher/academic would be looking for in terms of search limiters and options. Both also allow you to refine your results after doing an initial query, from a sidebar on the left or right hand side of the screen.

Controlled Vocabulary: Both Art Index (H.W. Wilson) and IBA use subject headings in their database thesauri. These thesauri are where you would go to look up specific ‘subject terms’, such as a personal name (IBA only) or an art-related term (such as “abstract art”). Both have simple search boxes and options to limit your search terms (such as “contains words, starts with”). But there is a caveat….you have to know your subject terms, although both allow you to browse, but that is not an efficient way to search a database thesaurus.

Sorting: In Art Index (H.W. Wilson), you have the option of sorting your search results by date (newest or oldest), source, author, and relevance. In IBA, your options are: oldest first, most recent first, and relevance. Both databases default to the ‘relevance’ option, but still allow for user personalization by giving you these options. While there are less choices for IBA, both function correctly and can be helpful in your search.

Command Line Searching: While Art Index (H.W. Wilson) does not have this feature, IBA does. An example for a command line search on Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance would be;

  • su.Exact(“renaissance” OR “da vinci, leonardo”)

The advantages of learning this technique allow you to more accurately pinpoint the exact type of information you are looking for on a certain subject.

Records::Search-By dictating that you are looking for journal articles specifically, you can more easily modify your search if your initial results don’t look promising.


ABC-CLIO. (2014). Record structure. In J.M. Reitz (Ed.), Online dictionary for library and information science. Retrieved from

EBSCO Industries, Inc. (2015). About EBSCO: Who we are. Retrieved from

EBSCO Industries, Inc. (2015). Technology: User experience design. Retrieved from

ProQuest. (2015). About: History & Milestones. Retrieved from

ProQuest. (2015). ProQuest help: Overview. Retrieved from

ProQuest. (2015). ProQuest help: Search tips. Retrieved from