What is a database?

According to Merriam-Webster, a database is ‘a usually large collection of data organized especially for rapid search and retrieval (as by a computer)’. This can be of many types of information such as patient medical data, student personal information at a college or a listing of books a library has. In this context, the databases you will be dealing with mostly are databases of peer-reviewed academic journal articles. An example of one of those kinds of databases is the “Historical Statistics of the United States”. Inside this database you will find that, “HSUS provides data on social, behavioral, humanistic, and natural sciences including history, economics, government, finance, sociology, demography, education, law, natural resources, climate, religion, international migration, and trade - quantitative facts of American History. The fully searchable and downloadable electronic edition permits users to graph individual tables and create customized tables and spreadsheets reflecting their own particular areas of interest.” The benefit of using these kinds of databases is they offer peer-review of the articles within which means you are getting very accurate information from people in the appropriate field of study. These should be your first choice when it comes to sources for your academic papers.