I have a web application with around 40 site collections each with its own content database.now i want to configure a search service that would retrieve search result from all of the site collections. How do i go about it? Also,is it possible that search happens in a particular list/library instead of searching all the lists and libraries??

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I assume you are working with SharePoint 2013. For the first question to configure all site collection for search you need to create a content source under which you will specify the content to be crawled from. To create a content source you can this link

And for second question to search happens in a particular list/library instead of all list and libraries.

There are two way to do so:-

  1. First one is creating a result source and specifying the query to return content from specific list only. For creating a content source with query

    {searchTerms} http://siteName/Lists/ListA(contentclass:STS_ListItem_GenericList)

  2. And the second option is to uncheck the option appear in search option in list setting --> Adnvance setting -->Allow items from this list to appear in search results?

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