Library - FAQ
Frequently Asked Research Questions
- What is the difference between an Internet directory and a search engine?
- What is the difference between the Internet and Ebscohost?
- What is fulltext?
- What is the difference between a journal and a magazine?
|Human-generated: sites are submitted to the list by editors/public||Computer-generated: sites are found by a computer program that crawls the World Wide Web|
|Sites are classified by subject||Pages cannot be browsed, only searched|
|Collection of sites is limited, from dozens to thousands||Collection of pages in the millions.|
To read more about the differences between directories and indexes, see Danny Sullivan's article "How Search Engines Work."
For current search engine sizes, see "Search Engine Sizes."
Library databases (EbscoHost, National Newspapers, etc.) are subscription-only databases--you can only connect to them from campus computers or off-campus using a password. These are databases paid for by the college for use by students, instructors and staff. Connection to these databases is made through the World Wide Web (a subsection of the Internet).
The Internet and World Wide Web typically refer to the publically-accessible documents available to everyone in the world. These sources are highly variable in quality, in that anyone can place a page on the Net. See Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Sites.
When a search is performed on a fulltext database (EbscoHost or National Newspapers), the results will contain links to the whole article, or fulltext. Early computer databases only provided a citation, indicating where a print or microfilm version of the article could be found.
As computer speeds and storage capacities increased, fulltext became more available. Complete articles can now be printed, downloaded to disk, or e-mailed from the computers used for searching.
Availability of fulltext in the databases varies--a fulltext icon () indicates whether fulltext is available for a given article.
|Cover a wide subject area||Focus on a specific topic|
|Intended for general readers||Intended for subject specialists|
|Authors of articles are journalists or non-experts||Authors are experts or highly-regarded in their field|
|Edited by journalists or non-experts||Peer-reviewed by fellow experts|
|Few sources are cited||Formal list of works cited or footnotes provided|
|Articles are a few pages in length||Articles are several pages or more in length|
|Issues appear weekly or semi-weekly||Issues appear monthly or quarterly|
|Examples: Time, The Economist, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker||Examples: Journal of the American Medical Assn., American Historical Review, Philosophical Quarterly|