Search engines like Google can be a quick and easy way of finding information. However, they have their limitations, especially if you aiming to do a systematic search of the literature of a subject.
Some of the limitations of Google and other search engines:
- information ‘hidden’ from search engines : many sources of academic information, including important journals, are hidden from search engines, and older references may be less likely to be on the web.
- quality of information : search engines can lead you to incorrect information, or information at the wrong level. Google Scholar is better in this respect, but still has the other limitations.
- quantity of information : a particular journal article reference can turn up many times in a search engine results set, whereas in a database search it would only appear the once.
- limited search options : keyword type searching is the main search facility on search engines. Databases can offer additional options, including controlled vocabulary searching (using a thesaurus, subject headings) and citation / cited reference searching. For some subjects, specialised search options may also be available, eg chemical structure searching on some chemistry databases.
Going beyond Google means not relying solely on search engines to find books, journals, cases and maps (and all the other resources that you might need to complete an assignment or report) on the Internet. To help you go beyond Google, you could use the UTM Libraries OPAC (LESTARI) to find and link to resources, such as databases, that academics and researchers use to locate the information they need. These resources can save you time, help you focus your search (no more lists of results that are over 450,000 long), return information of a better quality, and make your search more comprehensive and systematic.
So the next time you need information, bear in mind the limitations of Google and other search engines, and consider using databases and other resources available through UTM Libraries OPAC.