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Web search vs. Library databases

You are probably familiar with popular web search engines such as, or These can be great places to start if you are looking for current news and events or information on popular culture; however, it is a little more difficult to find quality scholarly materials utilizing a web search engine.

Web search engines cast the broadest net with the least amount of filtering for quality or authority of content. In addition, web search engines also do not index everything. There is a lot of information on the internet which cannot be accessed, because it is behind a paid subscription login.

Library databasesDatabase: a large, regularly updated file of digitized information (bibliographic records, abstracts, full-text documents, directory entries, images, statistics, etc.) related to a specific subject or field, consisting of records of uniform format organized for ease and speed of search and retrieval. are usually more selective, focus more on academic and scholarly resources, and can be very specific to the topic you need to research.

Web Search Library Databases
Free Subscription required (mostly) - provided through the Baylor Libraries
Broad results - popular and sometimes scholarly Broad or focused results - scholarly and popular
Only infrequently provides free access to full text Often provides access to full text
Text, images, audio, video Text, and (selectively) images, audio, video (depending on database)
Content changes; sites disappear or relocate Content stable
Content not organized for efficient searching Content organized and structured for efficient searching

The library databases also represent the collection of search tools for each profession - what you'll need to use to learn how to conduct research and scholarly work within your major. To support the information and research needs of the university, the Baylor Libraries have subscribed to a large number of the most comprehensive and helpful electronic resources. During your first year, multi-disciplinary databases like Academic Search Complete and Academic OneFile will be good introductions to a range of quality resources. Beyond your first year, however, your faculty and instructors in college are likely to expect you to use more scholarly or professional resources in preparing your papers and presentations.