RADT 000 - Radiologic Technology - Course Guide: Databases & Websites

Library Databases vs. Websites

What's the difference between searching a library's electronic databases and Internet websites - the public web?


Library Databases

Websites (Public Web)

What are the differences?


  • Professionals or experts in the field
  • Anyone regardless of expertise


  • Scholarly readers - professors, researchers or students, professionals in the field
  • Anyone


  • Contain published works where facts are checked
  • Authoritative, accurate
  • Generally provide scholarly materials and/or allwo content to be limited to scholarly/peer reviewed content
  • Content is not necessarily checked by anyone, expert or not
  • Bias, reliability and/or accuracy concerns
  • Cannot limit to professional, scholarly literature


  • Provide all the necessary pieces of information to create a complete citation
  • May not provide the information necessary to create a complete citation

Search Features

  • Help you narrow down your topic or suggest related subjects
  • Sophisticated search tool - allows limiting searches by publication type, data, language, format (book, article), scholarly/peer reviewed, subject heading
  • Aren't often organized to support student research needs
  • Simple search tools - may allow limiting by language or file type, but often can not limit by publication date, format, scholarly/peer reviewed, subject heading

Search Results

  • A manageable number of results - can usually focus or limit as needed
  • Dozens to hundreds of hits - broad searches may result in additional results
  • Fewer duplicate results
  • Often an unwieldy number of results - can often only alter by changing search words
  • Thousands, sometimes millions of results
  • Greater number of duplicate/repackaged results


  • Updated frequently and include the date of publication
  • May not contain current information or indicate when a page is updated


  • Available to anyone using a computer in a library that subscribes to databases or any library cardholder using a computer outside the library
  • Available to anyone with an internet connection - the public web


  • Academic OneFile
  • Biological Science Database
  • Oxford Reference Library
  • LexisNexis Academic
  • Google


Evaluation Checklists

If you are still unclear of the accuracy of a website, feel free to utilize one of the following website evaluation checklists that further explains how to tell if a website is reliable or not.  By following the questions, you'll be on your way to knowing if a website is reliable.

Website Evaluation Checklist

University of Maryland Website Evaluation Checklist