Internet search engines have become the go-to for all scholarly inquiries as the speed and efficiency of finding the answer that is being sought within moments appeals to the very human desire for immediate gratification. People have turned to Google and Bing, for example, as their primary sources for information because of the open availability of related inquiries that can be found on the websites that come up after simply clicking the search button.

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Though undoubtedly convenient and the quickest way to root out the information that is related to one’s inquiry, generic search engines are an inappropriate method for conducting a scholarly inquiry as they are too general and can sometimes lead to bad information when unreliable sites are being used thereafter. While web-based search portals such as Google have their pros, online databases and virtual libraries have the upper hand when it comes to research.

While search engines are useful for keeping tabs on fast-paced news sources, Google doesn’t necessarily have all the content available to it: “Old newspapers, magazines and scholarly publications (also known as the “deep Web”) may not be accessible via Google due to regionally specific content or age” (Halsema, 2014). Following this, Google can be likened to a shallow pond compared to the ocean of information that can be discovered within individual databases and virtual libraries.

With generic search engines, there is a lack of controlled content and therefore, no credibility, as anyone can put their ideas and opinions out there, whilst with private databases, all scholarly resources are accredited and reliable: “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” (Evaluating Internet-Based Information: Library databases vs. search engines, 2016). As such, generic search engines are unreliable as there is too much information out there that may or may not be relevant, taking the matter to the battle of quality vs. quantity.

There is more conclusive evidence that for research purposes, databases and private library resources are of a higher quality and are generally more helpful in providing good information without going through the bad kind along with pop-ups, ads, etc.

  • Evaluating Internet-Based Information: Library databases vs. search engines. (2016, November 8). Retrieved January 25, 2017, from
  • Halsema, L. V. (2014, September 29). Retrieved January 25, 2017, from