collage of ports
Printer-Friendly Page
Library Databases Vs. the Public Web
Library Databases
All of Penn's research databases are accessed through the physical library or the Library Web. Most of these resources are paid for by the Library and provided to students free of charge. Because library databases contain mostly scholarly information and are designed to allow convenient searching of scholarly topics, they are very well suited for scholarly research.

Public Web
The public Web includes information on the Web that can be accessed at no cost, including sites that can be accessed with search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Because anyone can place a site on the public Web, only a small percentage of the information available is appropriate for scholarly research (see Penn's Web evaluation tutorial for help evaluating public Web sites).

Examples
Compare
Library vs. Public Databases:

Content: Library Databases vs. Public Web

Library databases have especially good coverage of

The public web has especially good coverage of

  • Very current (today's) news
  • Primary resources
  • Information about popular culture
  • General reference information
  • Recent government documents
  • Statistical information
  • Pictures and images

Features: Library Databases vs. Public Web

  Library databases Public web
Credibility of material Generally high Varies widely
Level of resources Mostly scholarly Mostly popular
Availability of full-text Moderate High
Search capabilities Sophisticated Simple
back*next