Skip to main content
× Learn about the University Library's COVID-19 response Learn More

Introduction to Library Research

Free Internet VS Academic Databases

Ever wondered what's the big deal with using the internet for research?  It has everything, right?  Not quite...find out the major differences between the internet and academic databases and if the internet still is what you want for your research papers...

Overview

Free Internet vs. Library Database: Which is the Best for Me?

 

Google

Library Databases

Free Internet

  • A worldwide system of computer networks
  • Provides access to a wide range of free information
  • A place for people to share thoughts, products, and ideas

Online Search Tools

  • Databases index journal articles, conference papers, book reviews, and other scholarly information.

A simple and basic opening screen 

A complicated screen: advanced search options, parameters available

Basic Search

Required advanced search techniques 

Millions of Results: not organized 

More manageable number of results: organized and indexed

Multimedia Results: websites, images, videos, etc. 

Articles, pictures, books

Unclear results descriptions: incomplete sentences from the website, not a summary 

Organized and clear result illustrations: publication info, subject terms…

Little control over results

More control over your results: range results by dates, relevant; email results to yourself, cite your result…

No special audience 

A targeted audience 

No review/editorial process with regard to content 

Articles are reviewed by scholars, professors and researchers 

How To...

Tips for Evaluating Websites

Not all websites were created equal.  When determining how or if you should use a specific website in your work, run it through the CRAP test.  Does the site pass the test, or is it a bunch of...?

  • Currency
    • How recent is the information?
    • How recently has the website been updated?
    • Is it current enough for your topic?
  • Reliability
    • What kind of information is included in the resource?
    • Is the content of the resource primarily opinion?  Is it balanced?
    • Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?
  • Authority
    • Who is the creator or author?
    • What are the credentials?
    • Who is the published or sponsor?
    • Are they reputable?
    • What is the publisher's interest (if any) in this information?
    • Are there advertisements on the website?
  • Purpose/Point of View
    • Is this fact or opinion?
    • Is it biased?
    • Is the creator/author trying to sell you something?

(originally from the LOEX 2008 wiki)

When should I use a Database?

When should I use databases?

Library databases are best for Academic Research

Information found in a Database is...Authoritative, Accurate, Reliable

 When you are searching for...

  • Research papers
  • Conference papers
  • Scholarly journal articles
  • Book reviews
  • Other scholarly information

When you are writing...

  • Research papers/Academic research
  • Paper due tomorrow

When should I use the internet?

The internet is best for Non-academic and General searches

 Entertainment, Leisure related information, Directory information (phone numbers, addresses)

  •  Specific website
  • Government, company, organization
  • Current and popular news
  • Communicate with your friends: facebook, blog, twitter…
  • Multimedia resources
  • Don’t mind evaluating and sorting
  • A good way to start: get a main idea or topic, related terms and information