Google Searching and Library Databases

 Differences: Searching Google vs Searching Library Databases


Library Databases

 1. Result Ranking

  • peer ranking/popularity
  • Your "search filter bubble"-  previous searches impact results Google delivers 
  • Rank can be impacted by the order of your search terms 

 1. Results Ranking 

  • Relevancy
  • Date
  • Author
  • (No Peer Ranking or "search bubble")
  • Search term order does not impact ranking
 2. Materials Google Searches ...
  • Wikipedia
  • Websites
  • Social Media - blogs, wikis, YouTube
  • Amazon

 2. Library databases search specific materials such as...   

  • Books in a specific library
  • Journals/articles
  • Newspapers

 3. Google doesn't Index...

  • Library Databases
  • Much of Facebook
  • Password protected sites (eg. eCollege)
 3. Library databases don't index....
  • Web based materials (see #2 under Google)
 4. No categories to narrow a broad search into a specific subject area 4. Many ways to expand or narrow your searches
 5. No citation given - MLA, APA, etc  5. Citation given


  • The above differences means that Google delivers research results slanted towards what it thinks you want. Also it delivers sources that are more likely "popular" as opposed to being vetted by an authority. Library databases don't evaluate the information in the results, but the materials searched are restricted to content published through an authority such as a newpaper or book publisher.
  • Google and Library database search results may overlap. If you can determine that a Google result is authoritative and not an example of unvetted "vanity" publishing, then the information may be useful for an academic paper. It doesn't matter generally whether you get a NY Times article found in a Google Search versus a library database.

What you want to be looking for is authoritative and scholarly source that provide the original research used to document and support the conclusions given in the source. You may learn a lot about your country through blogs and discussion, and that may dramatically impact your thinking. But the sources in your bibliography should, overall, reflect balanced and objective viewpoints.

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