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This is the "Databases vs. Websites" page of the "COMM 1 Mara" guide.
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Last Updated: Oct 20, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Databases vs. Websites Print Page

Cabrillo Databases

Authority: Easy to determine. Most databases have scholarly/peer-reviewed filter or contain only scholarly literature. Authority and trustworthiness are virtually guaranteed.

Number of Hits: Dozens to hundreds of hits (sometimes 1000’s but not 100’s of 1000’s) - a more manageable number, and duplicates can be filtered out.

Relevance: Focus by subject (business, art, American history) and/or format (journals, books, book reviews), which often means more relevant information and less time wasted dealing with junk. Information comes from legitimate, quality-controlled sources.

Search Features: Numerous advanced search features determined by database subject focus, e.g., limiting by publication type, date, language, document format, scholarly/peer-reviewed status. The list of features is as long as the number of databases available.

Access to Published Information: Databases deal only with published information; that is information that originally appeared in print: magazine and journal articles, books, etc.They are more stable than the Web. Through the library’s paid access, all of this information is available to you, the user, for free.


The Web (Google, Wikipedia,, etc.)

Authority: Varies at best. Difficult to verify. Cannot limit to professional, scholarly literature. Information on the Web is seldom regulated, which means authority is often in doubt.

Number of Hits: 1000’s, sometimes millions of hits, much of the same information repackaged or duplicated. Duplicates are not filtered out.

Relevance: Lack of subject focus can result in numerous irrelevant hits – or “junk” – to wade through. Much Web information is opinionated and biased. Unless you are using a subject-specific search engine, expect “everything and the kitchen sink” in the results. Quantity ≠ Quality

Search Features: Varies by search engine, but often limited. Can limit by document type (.doc, .pdf) or language, but limiting by publication date, format (article, book, etc.), scholarly/peer-reviewed and more is unavailable.

Access to Published Information: Web information often lives and dies on the Web and can come from anyone with Internet access. Seldom is the information coming from legitimate published sources: magazines, academic journals, books, etc. When it is, the user usually has to pay to access it.


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