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TCC Library: Comparing databases and search engines

Library "How do I...?"

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Using both databases and search engines is important

Using both databases and search engines is important

Academic article databases like Academic Search Complete 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...

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.
Google Web Search

Watch video: What are databases and why you need them

Library "How do I?" credits

The TCC Library "How do I?" guide is adapted from the Library DIY project created by Meredith Farkas, Amy Hofer, Lisa Molinelli and Kimberly Willson-St. Clair at Portland State University Library. Several Library "How Do I?" pages are adapted from pages within the Portland Community College Library "How do I" project, as well as the Oregon State University Libraries' Library DIY project.

CC BY SA license

Except where otherwise noted, the content in these guides by Tacoma Community College Library is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0.
This openly licensed content allows others to cite, share, or modify this content, with credit to TCC Library. When reusing or adapting this content, include this statement in the new document: This content was originally created by Tacoma Community College Library and shared with a CC BY SA 4.0 license.

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