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Comparing Databases and Search Engines

Research Help Appointments

Need help with your research? A reference librarian is like a tutor for finding and citing information. Schedule an appointment to get uninterrupted individual time with a librarian.

Academic article databases like Academic Search Premier and big search engines like Google both have their place in the research process. Most academic researchers will do multiple searches, using both in databases and search engines

Use databases when you want to:

  • Find articles for a specific subject.
  • Focus on a particular source, such as peer-reviewed articles or newspaper articles.
  • Find information from published sources, many of which won’t be available on the open web.
  • Narrow or focus your search using features that are only useful for your topic (for example, if you want to limit to articles about a specific industry or a period of time)

Use search engines when you:

  • Want to scan a large portion of the information available on the internet.
  • Want to find out more about a source or author.
  • Are not sure if the information you want exists.
  • Do not need to narrow or focus your search very much.

For further information, see the video below from Yavapai College Library: