The "Free" Web vs. the Library's Electronic Resources
Why use the Library's Web site when you can search Google?
Search engines, such as Google, look throughout the internet for information available through the World Wide Web. Most of the content which search engines locate can be viewed freely by anyone with a connection to the internet.
The "free" Web can be a great place to start when you are looking for information. Governments, universities, and various non-profit organizations often place information on their Web sites. But along with these types of Web sites, you also can find pages that were created for completely different reasons (many of which are not altruistic).
Commercial Web sites, personal Web logs (blogs), and discussion groups can be informative and entertaining, but they often do not provide the type of peer-reviewed information which is best for academic research.
Beyond the results of a Web search, there is a vast amount of quality material available through the internet--but only for a fee or subscription.
The Library's Electronic Resources--The Basics
Publishers need to protect their proprietary and copyrighted information, therefore they will not put it up freely on the internet. Just as music publishers do not want you to download music off the internet for free (in violation of copyright), print publishers do not want their materials distributed without some sort of control or compensation.
To protect themselves, publishers often provide access to their material from their own Web site only for a fee. Many newspapers, for example, will provide past articles online for a few dollars each. Other publishers may protect their material by provide online access to these items only through certain information providers (or vendors). These information providers will charge institutions or individuals for access rights to this information through their various electronic resources.
To support the academic needs of the University, the Library currently subscribes to over 400 electronic resources. These electronic resources or databases provide access to online books, journal articles, dissertations, newspapers, and other materials such as images or sound recordings.
Library databases are only accessible through the campus network, so they are not freely available to the public. However, you can access them off-campus via the connectivity package or campus proxy server.
Why should I use the materials in these electronic resources for my research?
Many of the electronic resources the Library subscribes to focus on indexing or providing access to core academic journals. These journals well respected within the academic community and are peer-reviewed (sometimes called "refereed") to ensure the quality of the research included within the publication. Most of these journals are published by reputable publishers or university presses.
The articles publised in academic journals are often essential to include in any literature review. Some disciplines, especially the sciences, depend on these publications for their scholarly communication and tenure decisions. Researchers may only publish in the core journals of their field and read them to keep current in their area of study. Web pages, on the other hand, will usually not contain these peer-reviewed publications. In fact, no one may review the content for accuracy or quality.