Why Can’t I Just Search Google?

Why can’t I just search Google? At some point you might wonder “Why can’t
I just use a search engine to find materials for my college level research?” Google is good if you’re looking for web
pages on a topic, but it’s not good at finding books in your library, or articles from reputable
sources. To complicate things even more, the results
that come up in Google searches are affected by a number of different factors. First, there are sponsored links that are
placed at the top of many results – those are paid for by advertisers. Second, Google uses the popularity of results
to push some items up high in the list. Results that appear toward the top of the
page may not be the most relevant – or even the most reputable. They’re up there because other people click
on them. A lot. Third, there are results from Wikipedia. Articles in Wikipedia might help clarify topics,
but since they are not guaranteed to have been written by experts in a field, they may
be flawed, or contain misinformation. Finally, many Google search results are web
pages posted by individuals or companies with an ulterior motive – they are trying to persuade
readers to buy something, believe something, or just do something that will benefit the
poster. None of these results is really appropriate
for college level research – unless you’re trying to show something with a bias, or that
might be flawed. Academic libraries purchase resources – like
databases – that provide access to materials that are based on unbiased, scientific and
primary research. These tools don’t reward sneaky tricks like
paying for placement – instead, they rank results based on how recent they are or true
relevance to your search. They also return results that have been reviewed
by other scholars and that have thorough bibliographies, so you can feel more confident in the material
presented. In addition, many of the items you’ll find
in the library catalog or in databases are just not available on the open web – they
won’t even show up in your search results. As you look through your Google results, compare
them to the quality of the information you find in the library’s databases. Is it easy to figure out who wrote the information? Has the author cited her sources? Can you easily contact the author of the page
if you have a question? For many of the results you find on the open
web, the answer to these questions is no, or not really. Google can be a helpful source of some information,
but for college-level research, it may not make the grade. If you have any questions about the resources
you find through Google or a database, please feel free to ask a librarian!

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