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Getting Started: Databases v. Websites

An introduction to the library services of the Bishop Ransom Library.

Acessing Databases

Making use of databases is an effective way to conduct research. Patrons must be logged into their library account to utilize closed-access databases. 

A-Z Databases









Databases differ from websites in the following ways:

  • Authority: Easy to determine. Most databases have a scholarly/peer-reviewed filter or contain only scholarly literature. There is an inherent trustworthiness to databases.
  • Intention: Typically educational or informational. A shared intention with educators, journalists, and publishers.
  • Traffic: A manageable number.
  • Access: Restricted. Databases deal only with published information; information that originally appeared in print: magazine and journal articles, books, etc. Through the library's paid access, this information is made available to the user for free.
  • Relevance: Focus by subject provides more relevant information and less time is spent wading through superfluous fluff.
  • Searching: Numerous advanced search features can limit by: publication type, date, language, document format, scholarly/peer-reviewed status.
  • Authorship: Verifiable and clear.

The Web

Websites differ from databases in the following ways:

  • Authority: Varies widely. Information is not regulated and can often be faulty.
  • Intention: Varies widely. Although some web content is intended to educate (.edu) and inform, much of it is commercial (.com), bureaucratic (.gov), or unknown (.org) in its intention.
  • Traffic: Can be in the 100 of millions or billions. Content is frequently repackaged or duplicated.
  • Access: Open. Seldom is information originating from credible published sources such as academic journals, magazines, books. Typically users must pay to access this type of content.
  • Relevance: Much of web content must be waded through to find relevant information.
  • Searching:  Often limited. Search results can typically be filtered by document type or language, but not filtered by scholarly/peer-reviewed, or simply author.
  • Authorship: Can be concealed or obfuscated.