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Susie McClure Library: Databases

What is a research database?

All academic libraries subscribe to databases to help students and faculty find information for their personal research. 

The Susie McClure Library has several tools available to help you find reliable sources for your papers and classwork. Click on the links in the drop menu to access all of our various offerings. These tools are all provided free to students & faculty and give you access to articles that would normally be charged at a high fee.

Scholarly vs. Popular Resource

Google vs. Library Databases

Search engines, such as Google, look throughout the world wide web for information, most of which can be freely viewed by anyone with a connection to the internet. Governments, universities, various organizations both non-profit and for profit all post information on their web sites. Along with these types of web sites you can also find a wide variety of other pages such as commercial web sites, personal blogs, and discussion groups all adding clutter to the information available on the “free” web.  Most scholarly information is not free on the web and even Google Scholar does not link to all of the articles in the library’s online databases. 

There is not necessarily anything wrong with using Google and it can be a great place to start your research, but should not be your only stop. Google is in essence a “popularity contest”. Google search results are returned in order based on the number of hits a website receives, so it is very easy (although essentially cheating) to manipulate Google in order to have a website come out at the top of the results list.  In 2011, retailer JC Penney was caught doctoring its Google search results by using what is known as "black hat" optimization...in essence, gaming the system so that JC Penney floated to the top in hundreds of unrelated searches. This is one example of how Google is not the most reliable and trustworthy place to find research.