Today, using a search engine has become a basic Internet-based activity. Technological advancement has led to the development of an enormous search index, and leading in that is Google. Today to locate content on the Web without the use of modern sophisticated search engines is close to impossible. Search engines index information that can mostly be freely accessed. Along with websites, it links the web user to pages, commercial websites, discussion groups, personal blogs, etc. Scholarly information is not free to be accessed and tools such as Google Scholar do not provide all of the contained relevant links to a library’s database. A database, on the other hand, is a systematized assortment of digitized, electronic information featuring information from scholarly journals, magazines, archives or electronic books that have been published in print form before, and underwent an editorial process.
To test the search results obtained from Google’s Search Engine and EBSCO library database, keywords “privacy and security on the Internet” were used as a test. The web evaluation criteria used to determine the results was obtained from “New Mexico State University Library” (NMSU, 2007). According to the Criteria, Google search results were checked for authority, accuracy, coverage, currency, objectivity, accessibility and Navigation.
Free Information on the internet is not always appraised for reliability or accuracy. Since no standards can be set, therefore everyone has the ability to distribute their content online. Some websites may not be updated, so the information can be possibly outdated.
In an online library such as EBSCO, the results of the keyword search brought documents submitted and written by the experts of their respective fields that are further evaluated for reliability and accuracy by teams of publishers, and are mostly peer-reviewed by faculty or librarians. The credibility of Information is evaluated on the basis of trust and expertise, soon search engines, users are reliant on each other’s provided material (Lankes, 2008).
To assess the accuracy of the results, both searches were compared. Google lacked subject tagging that brought many results not relevant to the keywords, and the lack of filters and systematic ranking leads to one digging through thousands of results, the ranking of the pages can be manipulated also to give false relevance to results. Information was often biased and subjective. In contrast, the EBSCO database results were organized and grouped together by subjects, providing ease of access. Filters allow more control providing date ranges, full text, and peer-review option to searches, narrowing down the required results (H Timpson, 2011).
Open source search results often link to websites that are old or no longer online, and any person with an Internet connection can be a source. Published sources are not as common and usually, link to a payment form in order to gain access. Search results on the library brought results from publications that had already been printed in journals articles, magazines or books. The links are also more stable. The results pointed to many sources that provided an in-depth study of the topic whereas the simple webs search led to sources providing often a single-page, superficial look at mostly unoriginal content and only a few properly cited references or statistics.
The results’ objectivity is also under question, while the objectives of the authors or the sponsors may not be openly mentioned. The web basically functions as a communal forum, where individuals and groups broadcast or transmit their opinions and beliefs. Since the internet is not under any centralized control, information and results indexed in search engines does not normally undergo a process for review, and thus leads to more time being wasted in dealing with junk, since the information has not come quality-controlled legitimate sources (Jan Brophy, 2005).
The better navigation features that the library databases provide through advanced features such as Boolean operators lead to specific subject focused results. The results are limited by publication type, language, date, scholarly status and document format. The number of features is quite complex and a number of field focused databases exist with a wealth of scholarly information. Using databases to find scholarly information on the keywords was particularly helpful when it was combined with Google web search which also comes with its own set of benefits. For a new subject, it is recommended to find a few relevant sources from search engines to provide a basic overview and then use library databases to obtain scholarly results to develop a strong insight.
H Timpson, G. S. (2011). A student perspective on e-resource discovery: Has the Google factor changed publisher platform searching forever? Serials Librarian, 61(2), 253-266. doi:10.1080/0361526X.2011.592115
Jan Brophy, D. B. (2005). Is Google enough? Comparison of an internet search engine with academic library resources. ASLIB Journal Of Information Management, 57(6), 498-511. doi:10.1108/00012530510634235
Lankes, D. (2008). Credibility on the Internet: Shifting from authority to reliability. Journal of Documentation, 64(5), 667-686. doi:10.1108/00220410810899709
NMSU. (2007, July 26). Web Evaluation Criteria. Retrieved from Lib.nmsu.edu: http://lib.nmsu.edu/depts/reference/documents/WebEvaluationCriteria.pdf