Skip to Questions

Answers @ Bertrand Library - Looking for help with your research? Just ask!


What is a search engine, and when should I use one?

Last Updated: Mar 10, 2015  |  64 Views

Was this helpful? 0   0


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.

Answered by Carrie PirmannBookmark and Share

Other Answers / Comments (0)

    Help is Always a Click Away

    Quick Question?
    JavaScript disabled or chat unavailable.
    In-depth Question?
    Meet with a Librarian

    Browse by Popular Topics

    annotated bibliography  –  citations  –  copyright  –  databases  –  developing a topic  –  Evaluate  –  evaluating sources  –  Find  –  finding articles  –  finding books  –  getting help  –  Google  –  information literacy  –  keywords  –  news sources  –  plagiarism  –  reference materials  –  Research by Subject  –  scholarly sources  –  search engines  –  search terms  –  Tools and Tips  –  WorldCat  –  Write and Cite  
    View All Topics