What is a search engine, and when should I use one?
Freely available Internet search engines, such as Google, can be used to help you find websites, images, documents, and other information online. However, search engines are only able to retrieve websites, etc. that are publicly available. They will not be able to retrieve articles or other information from private sources, such as the databases paid for by the library.
Because anyone can publish on the Internet and there is often no editorial control over the content of websites, it is often very difficult to discern if the information contained in a publicly available website is of appropriate quality to be used for scholarly research. In addition, because of the of the lack of organization and standardization the Internet, search engines are not able to retrieve information with the precision that a privately created database does. Search engines cannot distinguish the relevancy of a website to your search term very well and therefore tend to retrieve many sites that have little or nothing to do with the information that you are seeking. A guide to evaluating online sources can be found here.