There are distinct differences between library databases and websites. Any source can have good information. However, it is important to carefully consider the information sources and if it will be valid and relevant information for the project.
Databases generally contain information from published works such as: magazines, newspaper articles, encyclopedias, journals, and other reference books. They are also searchable by keywords, subjects, authors, titles, and dates. Citation information like author, title of article, publication, publisher and date of publication. Often times these databases contain full-text articles that can be printed or emailed.
There are also a variety of types of databases for specific or general topics. The MeL databases
are paid for by taxpayer dollars. The advantage of using a library database for research, is that a student can obtain their information from professionals/experts in the field. Plus, published works are easy to cite in a bibliography, facts are checked, publication dates are included, and databases are updated frequently.
Pages can be written by anyone, regardless of their level of expertise. Content is not necessarily checked or indicate when the information was updated. They often don't provide the information necessary to create a complete citation. Websites are often not organized to support the needs of a student's research project.
When researching for projects, it is important to consider the following:
- Currency: How recent is the information, and when was it last updated?
- Organization: Is it easy to find the information you need?
- Accuracy: How reliable is the information, and are the facts accurate?
- Bibliography: How easy is the work to cite in a bibliography? Does it give you the author, title, publisher, and date?
- Unfamiliar Topics: How useful is it when you don’t know where to start?