Databases vs. Websites

While you may want to automatically use a website to find information for your research paper, it may not be the best resource for your needs. Easier is not always better in the long run.

A thumbnail of the Databases vs. Websites infographic
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Using Databases:

  • Databases are available to students through the Library’s subscription. They are accessible on campus and at home.
    • Because they are paid for, you need to log-in when home so the database knows you are authorized to use it.
  • Databases are often confusing for students at first.
    • Many have complicated search screens which students may find intimidating.
    • Though many allow for natural language, they often work best with scholarly keywords.
  • The best resources for finding in-depth information for a research paper or project are databases.
  • Journal articles, written by experts in the field, are found there.
  • Journal articles from databases are subjected to peer-review, which means other professionals in the field verify the information in the articles is accurate.
  • There is a finite number of journal articles in a database.
    • You can narrow down your selections by date published, country, type of article, full-text or even what types of subjects appeared in a study.

Using Websites:

  • The Internet is “free” in terms of cost for use.
    • The cost for access is paid through service providers and device manufacturers.
    • Your usage and personal information may be bought or sold by companies in exchange for access.
    • See website domains for more information.
  • Websites are found fairly easily through a search engine like Google or Bing.
    • They are able to take whatever you type in and produce a result in less than a second.
  • If you are looking for quick or background information, websites may provide ideas for topic selection or keywords to use in databases.
  • Any person or organization can create a website.
    • There is no authority overseeing the web to verify if information is factual or not.
    • Unfortunately, this causes false information to spread quickly.
    • See evaluating information for more information.
  • There is an unlimited amount of websites.
    • The order of website results are often determined by:
      • Your past searches.
      • Money paid to companies that operate search engines.
      • Tags on a website.