Read this before you use Google for Academic Research

Google is usually the first place that pops into your head when you need to find something. The library is here to tell you that when it comes to academic-level research, Google just doesn’t cut it.  Yes, it’s easy to use, but how accurate is it?  How reliable and “scholarly” are the results you get? Can you sift through the 100’s or 1000’s of results you get when you search?  Majority of “peer-reviewed” or “scholarly” information is simply not available through Google.  There is a time and place to use Google, that use should be as limited as possible when it comes to your academic research.

Here are the reasons that Google is not the answer, as well as suggestions for academic-quality library resources that you can use instead.

image of Google search with 14,500,000 results

3 Reasons you should not use Google for your academic research:

  • Accuracy:  There is no peer-review process for the  majority of pages on the web. As a result, it’s almost impossible to determine their accuracy, quality or purpose.
  • Authority:  Since anyone can publish a website and there is rarely any control over the content, it’s often hard to determine who authored the page, what their qualifications are, or even that the page isn’t deliberately deceitful.
  • Quantity: Google indexes billions of web pages and doesn’t distinguish between academic information and a random page created by a very opinionated person writing whatever they feel like without any research or expertise.  As a result, most searches in Google result in thousands or tens of thousands of results with very few relevant and “scholarly” sites.

What about Google Scholar?

  • It is a better option than Google, but not as good as our library research databases; a subset of Google.
  • It indexes publicly-available papers, theses, and books; it is compiled by what a machine guesses is scholarly.
  • Results can’t be sorted by date or publication, nor limited to peer-reviewed material.
  • The vast majority of search results are not accessible in full-text.
  • Though if an article is available in the Empire State College library, it is often available through a link. These links may not be up to date.

Library Resources that should be your primary research tools:

Please Note: all of the resources above are also linked from the library home page:


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