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