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Course & Subject Guides

EdD. Research Guide: Where Should I Start?

This guide is designed as a component of EDUC 3001: Fundamentals of Research in the University of Pittsburgh's Online Doctor of Education (EdD) program.

PITTCat, Databases, and e-Journal Collections: What are the Differences?

PITTCat+ and PITTCat Classic

These are two version of our online catalog. Both versions display materials owned by the University Library System (ULS), but they do so in different ways.


  • An overarching search engine, especially good for new and emerging research trends
  • Provides a broad array of sources, but the results can appear unfocused
  • Includes references to books, journals, articles, images, archival materials and DVDs
  • Includes many direct links to online books and articles
  • Is very forgiving in terms of spelling

PITTCat Classic

  • A better option if you have a specific title, author, journal title, or subject heading to search for
  • Can specify the name of the journal you are looking for, by simply using the drop-down menu for Journal Title
  • Spelling is important, and authors' names are searched by last name first
  • Fewer options to narrowing down your search results, but less overwhelming
  • PITTCat Classic is the catalog to use when you have a very specific piece of information (Author, Title, Journal Title, or Subject Heading) as opposed to a broad keyword search on a subject






Databases contain references to journal articles, reports, books, and other documents organized around specific subject areas. The citations in databases frequently contain links to full-text content, and often include an abstract with a summary of the article.

  • Database content is scholarly in nature, and has been reviewed by editors prior to its inclusion into the database
  • Databases such as ERIC focus specifically on a subject, rather than the general approach taken by PITTCat
  • ERIC and other education databases contain links to journals, reports, and books that are held in the ULS collections
  • Databases allow you to use very specific terms to limit your search results. In the case of ERIC, there is a controlled vocabulary to narrow down your topic and combine terms

e-Journal Collections

  • They are not databases, but digitized journals, produced by journal publishers
  • Examples include: JSTOR, Project Muse, Ingenta Connect, Cambridge Journals Online
  • Some include limited search or browse capabilities by general subjects, for example, Education, but do not allow you to search in any sophisticated manner
  • e-Journal collections are a good way to stay up to date in your field by seeing what types of articles are being currently published

Which Tool Should You Use to Get the Best, Most Efficient Results?

  • ERIC and other databases to find out what education practitioners are writing and reading
  • PITTCat Classic to locate journal articles and books whose content isn't linked from the databases
  • JSTOR, etc., to get a broader picture of current publications