On Using Google, the Library, and Online Databases

4 Sep

Imagine that you just received an assignment for one of your classes. You have to write a 2-3 page paper on a topic of your choosing, and you must support your writing with information from outside sources. Where do you look for source material? The internet? Google? The library? How do you decide?

Why can’t I just use Google?

As many of us know, Google contains a lot of useful information and many people use Google to accomplish a variety of tasks. That said, Google is not the best resource for academic writing. While Google can connect you to different websites and resources with useful information, as the video explains, anyone can put anything on the internet. This is the same reason you should stay away from using Wikipedia as a resource for an academic assignment. The information found in these online resources are not always verified, and when completing an academic assignment, you want to make sure to use the most credible sources possible.

So, where can I find credible sources? 

The library and the library’s online databases are a great place to begin your search for scholarly sources. Any university library (and most public libraries) will offer access to a variety of resources, including books, newspapers, magazines, journal articles, and even films! While visiting the physical library allows you to physically retrieve many of these resources, most libraries now offer online databases. These online databases typically include a variety of resources (newspaper, magazine, and scholarly journal articles, as well as digital films) that are easily accessible from the comfort of your own home! 

Wait, what? I can visit the library from home? 

Yes! Both Cincinnati’s Public Library and the college library contain databases that you can access from any computer with an internet connection. This means that you can easily and conveniently access scholarly source material by following just a few simple steps. 

To access online materials through the Cincinnati Public Library, please visit http://www.cincinnatilibrary.org/ and use the search bar in the upper right corner to search the library catalog. To retrieve resources from the Cincinnati Public Library website, like scholarly journal articles, you will need to log in to the website using your library card. A library card can be obtained by visiting any branch of the Cincinnati Public Library (click here to find a location near you!). 

To access online materials through the college library, please visit your college blackboard page. Once you have logged in using your student login information, you can find the link for the Online Library in the blue toolbar at the top of your screen. Clicking this link will take you to the library page, which contains a list of the available databases. Academic Search Premier, the first database listed under Research Databases for Students, provides access to general resources. If you scroll down the page, CINAHL and CINAHL for Expert Searchers will connect you with nursing and health care related resources. 

Well, now what? 

Once you have found a database that looks promising, start searching! In this way, online databases are very similar to searching Google. You want to make sure that you have keywords or terms that you can search that effectively capture the focus of your project. If you have selected strong keywords or search terms, simply entering them into the search bar on the Cincinnati Public Library or into the search bar of one of the college’s online databases should produce some relevant results. That said, there are a variety of options built into online databases that can assist you in the searching process and that you will not find in Google. Let’s discuss a few of these: 

  • PDF Full-Text: Many online databases will contain a box that you can check for PDF Full-Text. This means that your search results will include only results that have a PDF available. Instead of finding a source that looks interesting and going to the library to locate a copy, you can pull up a PDF right on your computer. 
  • Scholarly Sources/Peer Reviewed: Checking this box in an online database ensures that you will receive only sources that are considered scholarly or peer reviewed. If your assignment instructions indicate that you should only use scholarly sources, you should check this box! (And, check back next week for more information on what constitutes a scholarly source!)
  • Publication Type: Select a type of publication from a drop-down menu. Options often include academic journal, periodical, journal article, case study, clinical trial, etc. 

Need help selecting sources, navigating the library, or using the online databases? Visit your Cincinnati Public Library, or contact the college/hospital library at TCH_Library@TheChristHospital.com



2 Responses to “On Using Google, the Library, and Online Databases”


  1. Scholarly Sources and Popular Sources | The Christ College Writing Center - September 12, 2014

    […] week, we discussed using Google, the Library, and Online Databases and we learned it is almost as easy to use the Online Library as it is to use Google, and the Online […]

  2. Research Topics & Research Questions | The Christ College Writing Center - September 19, 2014

    […] and Scholarly Sources, and the week before that, we reviewed the advantages and disadvantages to using Google, the Library, and Online Databases. We know when doing research we want to find sources on our topic that are scholarly and […]

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