Skip to main content

Dependability of Resources: Home

This guide teaches the basic understanding of different types of resources.


Your instructor wants you to use trustworthy information for a research project using the library's resources; but you wonder "why can't I just Google my topic?"

Here's why...

  • using search engines such as Google and Yahoo are fine for finding information created by the government, organizations, and individuals, but search engine results are difficult to filter and find the specific information you want 
  • library databases allow you to search for peer-reviewed scholarly information such as journal and newspaper articles, and are easy to filter for your desired results

So what is a database?

It is an organized collection of information that allows a user to search for a particular topic, article, or book. You can search for these in a variety of ways, for example, with keywords, subject, author, or title.

Information found through internet search engines such as Google are free, but the best information is costly. The library pays a fee to database providers for scholarly peer-reviewed articles.  


Accessing Databases from Off Campus

Access is available to students on all SRC campuses and from off campus with your library card number found on the back of your student ID card. When prompted for this number be sure to use a capital D and your digits with no spaces in between, for example D8692xxxxx. 

Here's an excellent video created by librarians from North Carolina State University that discusses evaluating resources. 


NCSU Libraries video
Shared by North Carolina State University with a Creative Commons license. 
creative commons image

Databases and The Internet
Use Library Databases When: Use The Internet When:
You need peer-reviewed articles You are willing to evaluate the content of websites. If so, view the Be Your Own Fact Checker guide as a reference.
You want to save time searching for your topic, using filters and Boolean searches You want to access information available on government (.gov) websites
You want to save time looking for the citation information of an article, the author etc. You want to access commercial/business (.com) websites​
You don't want information in a database to disappear overnight like it can on the internet You want to find information on associations, organizations, or groups, or personal web pages related to your topic
You are looking for encyclopedia overviews of your topic You don't mind viewing advertisements


Library Databases The Internet
Purchased by libraries Free to anyone
Content is evaluated for authority and accuracy, and is licensed for electronic distribution Anyone can publish to the internet
Information is stable Websites come and go
Organized and indexed by professionals so the content can be accessed and updated No official body oversees the organization and evaluation of sources found on a specific page

• Can search by specific subject headings and descriptors

• Can search in specific fields such as author and title

• Can filter search results

• Only searches by matching the keyword entered by the user

• Difficult to narrow your search, your result list is often a mix of information 


question mark icon

When should I use a database, and when should I use a search engine?

It depends on the type of information you need.
If you want to know how depression affects self-care in diabetes patients, your best option is to use a library database. 
• If you want data from the most recent Census, using a search engine to find the appropriate government website will work.  


Jeannette Glover's picture
Jeannette Glover
Russell Learning Resource Center
23235 N. County Highway 22
Canton, IL 61520
(309) 649-6603

Creator Attribution

Created by Marla Turgeon