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Google and Research

Use this guide to assist you in using Google for your academic research

Google Scholar VS Library Databases

Google and library databases can both be used for finding information, but what factors should users consider while using them?

  Google Library Databases
Coverage of Material

Breadth- finds a more broad, wide range of sources from the open web.                           


Depth- finds more specific sources relevant to your topic. Users have access to a specific collection of information. 
Specificity of Searching                                           Less important- yields results with broad search terms. Google analyzes link patterns and metadata and makes assumptions about what users are searching for.  Most important- while searching databases, the keywords you use make a big difference in the results the search will yield. Librarians attempt to make several access points to information through subject guides, indexes, and other search tools. 

Varies widely-the first few links may not be the most reputable sources. Coverage is a priority over quality. 


Typically very high- results are more likely to be peer-reviewed and scholarly sources. Quality is a priority over coverage. 

Open web-  many links from Google are free and easily accessed through the internet. Indexes the entire open web for material, which may or may not be behind a paywall. Users will not be able to view full-text for all Google Scholar results.


Pay walled material- Many sources in the library databases are licensed or purchased, meaning users must be affiliated with the university to freely access the materials.

An Important Note on Google & Privacy

Google attempts to provide users the best information by analyzing their search history online. Every time users search, Google collects and uses this information to find more relevant results. While this often helpful, it can also cause bias in search results. Library databases don't typically do this. Instead, they rely on the curation and e-learning to help users find the best information.