Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Research & Resources: An Introduction

This guide is an introduction to the research process, understanding different types of resources, where to find them, how to evaluate them and cite them.

Features of Library Databases and Google Search Engines

Library Databases vs. Google   How Search Works: Databases - Databases are collections of information. They are composed of records for each article, which are organized into fields. Articles in databases have been analyzed for content and assigned subject headings, which allow you to search by the main topic or subject of that article. Databases allow for searching by field [title, author, subject, etc.] and/or keyword searching, which search the whole record. The advantage of database searching is the ability to retrieve focused and relevant results. Google - Software called spiders indexes part of the web, by fetching web pages and following links from those pages, and so on. Then it stores billions of theses pages on thousands of machines. Search engines crawl this index of web pages and match it to the given search criteria. The search engine selects a list of results based on certain criteria, such as, how many times your search words appear, does it appear in the title, the URL, are they located near each other, and what’s it’s pagerank.   Types of Info: Databases - Scholarly journal articles, Popular magazine articles, newspapers, reference books and articles (e.g. directories, encyclopedias), books, videos, and no sponsors or ads. Google - Few free scholarly articles and books, popular websites, commercial websites, educational websites, government websites, statistics, organizational websites, current news and information, email, chat, social media, many sponsors and ads. It’s important to note that information from both library databases and google is useful depending on your information need and both need to be evaluated for accuracy and credibility. There are a number of factors that influence scholarly information and especially information published online by anybody with an opinion or idea. Carefully evaluate all information and pay close attention to your assignment requirements.   Features: Databases - databases have scholarly authors and sources, subject headings, citations and abstracts. You search databases using a controlled vocabulary when searching a database, use boolean operators, and it has advanced search features. It does not allow you to search by domain, which is specific to the internet. Google - Google is a self-publishing medium, uses natural language searching, and types and quality of information varies. You can use Boolean operators, and advanced search features when searching Google, as well as domain. Google is not set-up to searching using controlled vocabulary.   Types of Databases: General databases - general databases are large databases that include thousands of scholarly and general journals, magazines and newspaper articles on most subjects. Examples include Academic Search Complete, ProQuest, and JSTOR. Subject databases - subject databases typically collect and organize information on specific subjects or disciplines.   Works Cited:  "How Search Works." YouTube, uploaded by Google, 4 Mar. 2010, www.youtube.com/watchv=BNHR6IQJGZs.   Hock, Randolph. "Search Engines." Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 3rd ed., vol. 1, Taylor and Francis, 2010, pp. 4630-37. 7 vols.  Woetzel, Denise. “Advanced Academic Research: Why use the library databases?” Why Use Databases, Reynolds Community College, libguides.reynolds.edu/c.php?g=672329&p=4734717.