Published or Revised August 17, 2010
The internet is described very accurately using the definition of Michael Gorman, former Library Dean of California State University, Fresno:
“Take a book, remove the cover, remove the title page, remove the table of contents, remove the index, cut the binding from the spine, fling the loose pages that remain so they scatter about the room. Now, find the information you needed from the book. This is the Internet.”
A way must be found to sift through all that information. That is the purpose of the search engine.
The Internet, to most students, appears easier, quicker and is familiar. There are drawbacks. How do you know the information is reliable? How do you know the information is accurate?
Most library resources are checked for accuracy. The Internet can also be time-consuming because of the thousands of hits that can either be relevant or not to the subject search. The library databases will have fewer hits and be more focused and relevant to the search topic. Also the information, especially in-depth information, may not be there because the search engines may search only a fraction of the Internet and everything is not online.
Google Scholar is a search engine dedicated to scholarly literature. It can search across many disciplines and sources: peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations.
Google Scholar helps you identify the most relevant research across the world of scholarly research. Many of the items are not full text and a subscription is required or purchase of the book. Government items are full-text as they are on the government sites.
The Student Library Handbook (PDF) pages 15-17 explains how to evaluate a Web site.