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Getting Started @ The Libraries

Welcome to URI! This is a guide to help you find your way around the URI University Libraries.

Google It or Use the Library?

Google vs the Library Web (or, when the library web is better)

You're probably used to using Google to look for information. However, to do academic research, your instructors will expect you to go beyond Google and use the library web. Why? What's the big deal?


Library Web

Library web sources are carefully reviewed and selected by librarians based on their reliability, relevance to URI studies, and value to academic research.


Information retrieved by Google does not go through a review process. Anyone can publish on the web.

Librarians organize library web sources to help you easily decide which databases and journals you need for your research.


World Wide Web resources are not organized. There are too many pages for any search engine, like Google, to organize by subject matter.

Use the Library Web:

  • to find articles in scholarly journals
  • to find articles published in popular magazines
  • to search databases that index articles in many academic disciplines
  • to find books on your topic
  • to locate the full text of articles or books that are copyrighted

Use Google or another search engine:

  • for information on specific non-profits, corporations, or other organizations
  • for current information such as news, weather, stock quotes
  • to research a well-known event or individual
  • for online job postings, shopping, auctions, or travel services
  • to find opinions on a topic

Adapted from UC Santa Cruz Nettrail, University of California, Santa Cruz NetTrail Development Team

What about Google Scholar?

What about Google Scholar?

Google Scholar can be a great source when used in conjunction with the Libraries' article databases. It can't stand on its own, though, because:

  • Not everything in Google Scholar is scholarly. It includes unreviewed reports, industry propaganda, and other materials that are mistakenly indexed.
  • Google is not forthcoming about its actual coverage of scholarly literature. No one actually knows how far back their index reaches or if it's comprehensive.
  • Google Scholar takes information out of context, and does not show the range of publications in a discipline.
  • Researchers with an agenda can "game" the Google Scholar system to make their work look more important and valuable than it is.

It makes a decent "Plan B," but it should not be "Plan A."

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.