General Research Databases

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Have you ever had trouble deciding whether to conduct a search in General Reference Center Gold or General One File? These generic names don’t always provide a great descriptor of what a database contains, so I thought it would be nice to compare and contrast a few of our general research databases to get a better idea of which resource will best suit your needs. In this post we’ll be looking at Expanded Academic ASAP, General Reference Center Gold, and General One File. Before I get to the comparison chart though, I wanted to include a bit of information that is true for all three of these Gale research databases. The first point highlights a couple of options that can be used to assist in searches, and the last two are handy tools to keep in mind.

1. Subject Guide Search

This feature can be found on the orange search bar near the top of the page of each of the three databases and is especially helpful when the researcher has not yet narrowed down their topic. For example, if my basic subject is “bird watching,” I can search for it in the Subject Guide Search, click the green plus sign to expand, and see all of the various subdivisions, including competitions, personal narratives, methods, and environmental aspects, to name a few. We can also see how many sources are available in each category. Another way to hone in on a specific topic is to use the “Refine Results” box on the upper left-hand side of the screen. This allows the user to search for a new key word within an initial set of results. So, in the end, no search term is too broad in these databases, given all of the different ways provided to narrow down results.

2. On-Demand Language Translation

I was excited to see the On-Demand Language Translation tool that is also available for all three databases. When you have an article open on the screen, the tool box on the right-hand side will allow you to translate this specific document instantly into one of eleven languages. Chinese, Japanese, and Korean are the newest additions. Also check out articles in Arabic, Polish, and Russian!

3. Audio Versions of Articles

Right in the same area as the translation tool box, you can click on a speaker to hear an audio version of the article, certainly handy for those who prefer audio books or have trouble reading a computer screen. You can even download an Mp3 file to listen to later.



Expanded Academic ASAP

General One File

General Reference Center Gold

Quick Look

In-depth and balanced coverage of a wide variety of academic disciplines- perfect for serious or more casual researchers

One of the largest collections of full-text periodicals available on a huge variety of general interest topics.

Provides access to a number of general interest sources, including business and industry trends, current events, pop culture, etc

Features to Note

Assortment of academic journals, both discipline and issue-specific. Also includes cross-disciplinary journals and national news magazines

Aside from the vast number of periodical sources, there are 500 travel guides (including hundreds of Fodor’s titles) and more than 20 reference sets

Integrates general interest sources including magazines, newspapers, dictionaries, almanacs, and more


1980 to present

1980 to present

1980 to present

Number of Sources

Over 5,300 titles, including 3,800 peer-reviewed journals

Over 13,000 titles, and 70% are unique to this resource

Over 5,700 titles, 4,400 of which are in full-text

Number of Articles as of Dec. 12, 2013 




Example Sources

Journal of Business Communications, American Criminal Law Review, International Social Science Review

New York Times, Financial Times, Encyclopedia of World Biography, NBC Nightly News, Consumer Reports (full text through ’09)

Podcasts from NPR and Science@NASA, Roanoke Times, Christian Science Monitor, and hundreds of children’s magazines

Use For

Great option for any sort of scholarly research question from high school students up through adults

First choice* for basic questions about current events, culture, and general interest topics

Second choice for questions on current events and general interest topics

*Through this process I learned that General One File has a much larger selection of material than General Reference Center Gold. Many sources are shared between the two databases, but General One File has unique titles that the other general interest database does not.

Category: Library

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