The Free Web vs. Library Sources

The Free Web vs. Library Sources

Does your assignment say "no online sources" or "no internet sources?" 

There is a difference between online sources you find through searching Google or Wikipedia
and sources found using a library database online.

  • Internet sources or web sites, searchable through Google or Yahoo, can be created by anyone and provide information that is freely available to everyone. There is a lot of entertainment, sales, socializing, and news on the web. While there is interesting and solid information, it is not the place where the majority of research is or has been published.
  • Library databases, which are also available via the Internet, provide citation and or the full-text of articles from magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals. It is in these publications where most academic research can be found. But unlike the "free" web, the UCR Libraries pays a significant amount of money for its faculty, staff, and students to access these databases.  
  • What's the Difference? Internet sources are like regular TV channels, whereas Databases are like the premium movie channels that cost money. The Library subscribes to these premium sources so you don't have to pay.  

 The Free Web

Library Sources 

  • Anyone can put information on the web
  • Includes advertising, pop-ups, etc.
  • Much of the information is not reviewed or checked for accuracy
  • Some sites may ask you to 'signup' or create an account
  • Includes personal pages, chat rooms, email/IM newsgroups, blogs, video, etc.
  • You need to carefully evaluate for accuracy and reliability
  • Usually written by researchers, journalists, or experts
  • Published by traditional publishers; professional associations, universities, or commercial organizations
  • Some editorial process; may be peer-reviewed
  • Information has been verified for accuracy
  • No cost to you
  • No advertising
  • Creating an account not necessary
  • Login needed to use off campus

Magazine & Journal Articles

  • The majority of magazines and journals are not freely available on the web
  • Publisher sites may allow you to search for citations
  • Search capabilities usually limited, finding a good article can be time consuming
  • Full-text may require payment

Magazine & Journal Articles

  • The UCR Libraries subscribes to hundreds of databases giving you access to thousands of magazines and scholarly journals
  • Search capabilities are much better
  • Content and access will be regularly updated and consistent
  • Full-text is often available at no cost; the Library pays for the subscription


  • Today's news
  • May need to pay to get the full-text of articles


  • Current as well as older and historical news
  • No cost

Quick Reference / Factual Information

  • Useful for quick look-up type inforrmation (phone numbers, addresses, definitions, statistics, etc.)
  • Can be inaccurate or out-of-date, should verify information (i.e. Wikipedia is not always accurate)

Quick Reference / Factual Information

  • Online encyclopedias, almanacs, directories available through the library have been verified for accuracy
  • May not be as current as the internet
Last modified: 3/5/2007 1:29 PM by by D. Renfrow

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