Answered By: Hannah DiMeglio
Last Updated: Nov 15, 2021     Views: 7

The first thing to know about using open Web sources for academic research is when they are best used… different types of sources (books, articles, websites) offer different kinds of information and are best used for different purposes. I recommend searching Google (different than Google Scholar: see below) when you want to find local information, news, government information, nonprofit information, statistics, and popular opinion. Articles are good for finding studies, reviews of data over time, case studies, using academic theories in practice, etc. Books are good for overviews and history/background of a topic. You can more easily find these types of sources by typing in your keywords and adding site:gov, site:org, site:edu, or site:mil (ex. Climate change statistics site:gov). This will allow you to just retrieve information from those domains.


Google Scholar is a specific part of Google that primarily includes articles. The search interface is very basic but not easy, which can be tricky for new researchers. Another concern is the full-text of articles are not always free… so you put in all the work of finding something and can’t find the full-text. For these two reasons, I would always recommend new researchers use the library’s OneSearch on our homepage (which searches most of our databases at once) or individual English composition databases. I understand the search interface takes some getting used to, but it is much more powerful than Google (but not as intuitive) and you will get the full-text at no cost. Here is our short video on how to search OneSearch. Please ask a librarian to help if you are having trouble!