Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Get informed on the difference: Google vs. Google Scholar vs. Library Databases

This article is intended mainly for users who frequently struggle to find pertinent papers or articles on a given subject. Which search engine—Google, Google Scholar, and library databases—will be the most appropriate?
The relevance of these information retrieval tools varies according on the kind of user; for instance, the general public searching for a certain topic is unlikely to go further into verifying the article's legitimacy or the author's reputation. It will be adequate to use general information from Wikipedia, periodicals, magazines and newspapers. Research scholars can use Google Scholar to obtain more specific and relevant results for their subsequent research, as searching for articles or papers on a particular topic may not yield the desired results when using Google alone. A library database provides scholarly and peer-reviewed sources that are appropriate to use for academic research and writing. It is usually large collection of data organized especially for rapid search and retrieval. Subscription databases maintained by libraries offer a vast array of full-text articles within a specific subject. Each platform reacts differently when searching for a particular piece of information. Here are few key differences to help you figure out which type of information you get from these tools and to what extent they fulfill your requirement depending upon the information you need. 

FeatureGoogleGoogle ScholarLibrary Databases
Target AudienceGeneral UserResearchersAcademic researchers
Content FocusWeb content, news, blogsScholarly publicationsPeer-reviewed journals, books, credible sources
Source QualityMixed (scholarly & non-scholarly)Primarily scholarlyHigh-quality & vetted.
Search OptionsBasic keyword searchKeyword & advanced search filtersPowerful search tools & filters (author, date, subject)
Full-Text AccessLimitedSome accessOften full-text access.
ReliabilityCan be unreliable & irrelevantModerateHighly reliable & credible.
Citation InformationLimitedIncludes citation counts & related articlesOften displays citations & bibliographies.
Ease of UseVery easyModerately easyCan have a learning curve.
CostFreeFreeTypically requires institutional access (e.g., library)
Best forQuick overviews, current informationInitial research, finding citationsIn-depth research, reliable sources.



Broad Coverage: Google indexes a vast amount of web content, including websites, articles, and more.

 User-Friendly: Google's interface is simple and easy to use, making it accessible to a wide range of users.

 Free Access: Google is freely accessible to anyone with an internet connection.


Limited Academic Content: Google may not provide access to high-quality academic sources, and some scholarly content may be behind paywalls.

 Algorithmic Bias: The search results are influenced by complex algorithms, which might introduce bias or prioritize popular content over scholarly merit.

 Limited Search Filters: Google's search filters are not as advanced as those in specialized databases, making it challenging to narrow down results for specific research needs.

Google Scholar



Academic Focus: Google Scholar is designed to search scholarly articles, theses, books, conference papers, and patents.

Citations and Metrics: Provides citation counts, helping researchers gauge the impact of a particular work.

Integration with Libraries: Often provides links to full-text articles available through institutional subscriptions.


Not Comprehensive: While it covers academic literature well, it might not index all available scholarly content, especially from smaller publishers.

Limited Search Features: Advanced search options are available, but they may not be as robust as those in specialized databases.

No Quality Control: Google Scholar's inclusivity means that it includes a variety of sources, including some that may not undergo rigorous peer review.

Library Databases


Specialized Content: Library databases are curated for specific disciplines, providing access to high-quality, peer-reviewed academic content.

Advanced Search Features: These databases often offer sophisticated search options, allowing users to refine their queries for more accurate results.

Access to Subscription Content: Many library databases provide access to content behind paywalls through institutional subscriptions.


Limited Accessibility: Access to library databases may be restricted to those affiliated with certain institutions or organizations.

Learning Curve: The advanced features can be intimidating for beginners, requiring some familiarity with the platform.

Cost: Some library databases are subscription-based, requiring institutions to pay for access.

In conclusion, the choice between Google, Google Scholar, and library databases depends on the specific information needs, the depth of research required, and the availability of resources. Researchers often use a combination of these tools to ensure comprehensive coverage and depth in their literature reviews and research endeavors.



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