Unfortunately, it’s not simply a matter of choosing one or the other. Internet search engines like Google can search billions of public web pages for your keywords in seconds, but they cannot access proprietary data. The library pays for access to databases containing scholarly resources that cannot all be found using internet search engines. Don’t miss these valuable resources!
Internet research provides quick results but verifying that information can be time consuming. While the library sources have been preselected and evaluated by experts for quality and usefulness, with Internet research, you have to figure out by yourself what is useful and what is not.
Search in Google for a random term, and you are likely to come up with an average of a few thousand pages of which you can view up to a thousand. Most people do not look beyond the first and ten (sponsered and page-ranked) hits and therefore miss relevant sources.
So, you now know that using Internet sources involves a certain risk. That does not mean that they cannot be useful for your research. Why pick and choose if you can use both?
Watch the excellent video Should I be using Google or the Library resources for a paper? (1:40)
Why do you have to use an academic database, like Scopus or PsycINFO? Is Google Scholar, a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature, not enough? To let you experience the differences between Google Scholar and academic database, an example:
You want to find research on the use of and the effectiveness of ‘motivational interviewing’ with adolescents (age 13 to 17 years). This is a new topic for you, so to get an overview of the research done so far, you want to find systematic reviews, literature reviews and meta analyses first.
A query in PsycINFO could be:
The result is 21 articles (on December 6, 2022).
A query in Google Scholar could be:
The result is 7.610 results (on December 6, 2022)
Now, scan the first pages of results. How many results are relevant to your specific information need?
Note: When you scan titles in Google Scholar, the text below the title is not the abstract. The text sometimes comes from the reference list of the article.
So why pick and choose when you can use both?