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FSEMs: Fall 2021 & Spring 2022

This guide is for students enrolled in Fall 2021 First Year Seminar courses.

Video Demonstration: library databases over Google searching

This video created by Becky Johnson uses Star Trek characters to debate the merits of library databases over Google searching when doing research. (Published Published on Jan 1, 2012 by Xtranormal)


The table below compares the various differences between information found in the library databases vs. the open Web:

                                      Library Databases

 (e.g., Academic Search Complete & ProQuest Complete)

Open Web

 (e.g. Google & Bing)

Types of Information Retrieved

  • Scholarly journal articles
  • Popular magazine articles
  • Newspaper articles
  • Reference book articles (e.g., directories, encyclopedias)
  • Books
  • No sponsors or ads

When to Use

  • Best for college level research.
  • When you need to find credible information quickly.
  • Best for personal information needs including shopping and entertainment.
  • When you have time to more carefully evaluate information found          on the open web.

Credibility / Review Process

  • Articles and books written by journalists or experts in a professional field.
  • All material in database is evaluated for accuracy and credibility by subject experts and publishers.
  • Reviewed and updated regularly.
  • Lack of control allows anybody to publish their opinions and ideas on the Internet.  
  • Not evaluated (for the most part).  Need to more carefully evaluate      web sites for bias, accuracy, and completeness.
  • Many sites are not updated regularly and can become outdated.

Cost / Accessibility

  • Library database subscriptions are paid for through your tuition and state taxes.
  • To access the Stetson Library databases from off-campus, you will need to logon with your My Stetson username and password.
  • Most information found through a search engine is free. 
  • Library databases cannot be accessed through search engines or the open web.
  • Many web sites found through Internet search engines contain licensedproprietary information and require you to logon        with a user account.  You must already be a member or pay for a subscription in order to access the material from these web sites.


  • The organization and various search capabilities of library databases allow users to search for and retrieve focused and relevant results.
  • Less ability to search for and retrieve precise results using search engines like Google.  Need to wade through a “grab bag” of results.

Constancy / Permanence / Stability

  • Published content from journals, magazines, newspapers and books does not change.
  • Most material remains in database for a significant length of time and can be easily retrieved again.
  • Web site content can often change.
  • Web pages and sites may disappear for a number of reasons.             May not be able to retrieve the same content at a later time.


  • Many databases include a citation tool that will automatically generate an APA or MLA style reference for the article you select.  You may still need to “tweak” this citation but these tools serve as a good starting point for citing your articles in a particular format.
  • Most web sites found on the open web do not provide a citation tool      or an already formatted APA or MLA style reference for the web pages  on their site. You will need to start your citation from scratch using      APA or MLA style manuals or handouts from your instructor or the library. 
(Chart attribution: Bethel College, and Reynolds

Have a question? Ask a librarian! Email Call or text 386-747-9028.