Answered By: Elizabeth Goodman
Last Updated: Jul 27, 2022     Views: 63

An electronic database is a collection of information, such as articles written for various types of sources, images, and books. The collection is housed on an online platform that allows users to search and retrieve this information for use in research papers, general knowledge building, and more. Libraries, such as the Gateway Library, subscribe to these databases on behalf of the college to support the educational goals of the students, faculty, and the college as a whole.

Databases vs. Google or other internet search engines

Databases are similar to a search engine, such as Google, in that an algorithm is used to deliver search results based on the keywords a user has entered into the search box.

Search Engine Uses

  • Google and other search engines search for information found freely on the internet
    • links to websites
    • information found within websites
    • contact information
    • news articles, videos, images not behind paywalls

Database Uses

  • Databases contain information that is not always freely available on the internet such as:
    • Articles found in magazines, academic journals, and newspapers where the user would normally subscribe to the content through a periodic fee, or one time purchase
    • Images that can be used without violating copyright law
    • Entire books or chapters of books including reference encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, statistical data, and many other subjects from various points of view on a subject and more
    • Videos not available to the general public: documentaries, how-to videos, feature films

Examples of Search Engines

  • Google
  • Bing
  • Yahoo Search
  • Duck Duck Go
  • Startpage

It is recommended that users use a variety of different search engines with attempting to collect as much information on a topic on the internet as possible. Each search engine has a different search algorithm, which can result in different search results, or a difference in how the search results are ranked and displayed. 

Examples of Database vendors (see a full list at the Gateway Library's A-Z Database list at this link)

  • EBSCOhost
  • Gale
  • Infobase: Credo Reference
  • ProQuest

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