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The University of Tampa Macdonald-Kelce Library

Introduction to Library Research

Begin here to start your research papers

What You Are Searching

How can you search better? One way is to increase your understanding of the differences between:

  • web search engine (e.g. Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go)
  • stand-alone library database (e.g. Academic Search Complete, Jstor, Web of Science)
  • library-provided discovery service (e.g. Summon)


Search Engines:
Search engines such as: Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others find public information about people, companies, news, photos, and more. While they will find some scholarly articles, many are abstract only and others may be biased or unreliable.

Here are several scholarly, open-access search engines to begin your research:
(If you find a must-have non-full-text source, try finding the article in the library database or Interlibrary loan)


Library Discovery Search:
The library provides a single search engine which aggregates many subscription databases into an adaptable single search. This is a great tool to begin research on general topics and help you get started. For more specialized searching you should consider using specific databases.


Library Databases:
The library databases contain thousands of peer-reviewed articles, ebooks, videos, and more. These subscription-only sources are more likely to provide full-text, reliable, scholarly information with direct access that supports the university curriculum.

Pros and cons among search engines

A world-wide web search provides the greatest domain of content to be searched. However, sifting through the results requires a great deal of time browsing and filtering -- only to find that a small fraction of your results are peered-reviewed and that few scholarly articles are available as full-text. This is true even of Google Scholar.

A library discovery service provides a search across all library databases (often numbering in the hundreds) of scholarly materials consolidated under one search. One can be confident of retrieving content that is available as full-text.

A single database search usually offers very precise subject searching within a smaller pool of content – but increases the chances of returning better relevancy. In some instances, content of certain databases cannot be discovered through a library discovery service, and therefore searches must be conducted within a single library database. To view a list of  which databases are best searched apart from Summon click here.

The overlapping domains of content among search engines

Macdonald-Kelce Library - The University of Tampa - 401 W. Kennedy Blvd. - Tampa, FL 33606 - 813 257-3056 - - Accessibility