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NURS 3375 - Nursing Research and Evidence-based Practice: About Databases

Library resources for undergraduate research

What is a Scholarly Database?

A scholarly database is a warehouse of citations within the scope of a curated collection.

Key features include:

  • Often paid subscriptions; the library pays for access to databases within our collection
  • A search will only pull back results from within the database
  • Most of the content is only available through the library
  • No ads or pop-ups
  • Maintains citations for a set list of journals, which are selected based on pre-defined parameters
  • Indexing means humans select journals and other materials to include and assign specific tags or subject headings to the content to make searching easier (MeSH, thesaurus terms, subject headings, etc.)
  • Can include access to the full text articles
  • Focused content
  • Can refine search and manipulate results

How is Google Scholar Different?

Whereas Google looks across the known, open web, Google Scholar limits its results to a subset of pages that are more scholarly in nature. 

Key features include:

  • Content not always available in library databases
    • Preprints
    • University repositories
    • Conference proceedings
    • etc.
  • Links to free full text where available
  • More difficult to build a structured search and manage results

What is a Search Engine?

A search engine sends crawlers across the open web to retrieve results based on (typically) proprietary algorithms.

Key features include:

  • Paid for by ads, pop-ups, and tracking
  • Searches will bring back results based on your search history and preferences, and cached or known sites
  • Can link out to free full text
  • Content is not limited by scope
  • Indexing means the crawler has connected with a webpage previously and analyzed its content in order to return results faster
  • Fewer options for manipulating search or refining results

When Should I use One or the Other?

A search engine like Google, Duck Duck Go, or Bing:

  • For background information on a topic
  • Finding government resources and documents
  • Verifying information about an business or center
  • Recent news items/events

Google Scholar

  • Finding freely-available full text
  • Getting an idea of what is available on a given topic
  • Reviewing an author's profile
  • Quickly getting an article when you aren't sure about the topic

Scholarly Database

  • Performing a structured search
  • Finding academic literature on a given topic
  • Searching more deeply on a specific scholarly topic
  • Answering PICO questions
  • The assignments in this class!