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Doing Research

Search tools

There are several search tools from which you can benefit when you are searching for information sources. Some of these search tools are library based. Some other tools are available on the web.

Our Discovery is a powerful library based tool that reveals all library holdings. You can use this tool to locate information sources like books, articles, and reports available at our library. This tool has the ability to search and retrieve information sources by topics author, or title.

If the sources you locate are in print, then you will need to visit the library premises to locate them physically on the shelves. Online sources are accessible using your ACG Network/Blackboard credentials.

Subject Guides include various types of online resources. The resources are listed by order of importance. Each guide represents a major from those offered in our college. Browse the list of our  subject guides which are available on the library website.

Google is the world's most popular search engine. Actually, it has become so popular that we even use its name as a verb showing that we are searching for information. Through Google you can find government information, company/organization websites, news, blogs, and discussion forums on your subject area. You can also find academic sources like books, journal articles, and theses.

However, you will not be able to access all the academic sources that are indexed in Google. Publishers and organizations use the Google indexing services to promote their resources, but, usually, they require a fee to make them available.

Google book search works just like web search. When it finds a book with content that contains your search terms, it shows it in your search results and provides links to it.

If the book is out of copyright, or the publisher has given permission, you'll be able to see a preview of the book, and in some cases the entire text. If it's in the public domain, you're free to download a PDF copy.

Google Scholar is a freely accessible discovery tool that indexes scholarly literature (i.e., articles, theses, books and abstracts by academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities, and other websites) across a wide variety of publishing formats and disciplines.

However, the majority of results Google Scholar returns are not available in full-text. Check our Google Scholar Tutorial to find out how to link it with the library and retrieve more full-text sources.

Which tool is the best

This is not easy to say. Basically, because you can benefit from all these search tools in different ways.

Library and Google used interchangeably

The truth is that in research, we use Google and the library tools interchangeably. We usually jump from one to the other. Apparently, both Google and your library can help you locate relevant literature on a topic. Google, due to its smart searching, reveals easily relevant sources. However, libraries make these sources available through their databases, their repositories, or their print collections.

Google makes you feel overwhelmed

Using Google exclusively for your research can become overwhelming.  Google reveals all sorts of sources. This is why sources should be evaluated in terms of scholarliness and trustworthiness. Since, there aren’t any narrowing down options available, using Google Books and Google Scholar may help you narrow down your search results. However, most sources are not freely available, as publishers enable access restrictions.

Libraries overcome access issues

Libraries overcome access restrictions posed by publishers by:

  • subscribing to online databases, which are in agreement with publishers and offer full-text sources to their users. 
  • participating in sharing  resource networks through their document delivery services.

So, using the library’s Discovery and subject guides will offer you immediate access to relevant and credible sources, while Google remains a great index.

Comparing the tools

Check the table that follows to see how search tools differ in terms of what sources are making available

Tools Variety of Sources Quantity of Sources Quality of Sources Availability of Sources
Discovery High High High
  • Immediate access [authorization required] 
  • Document delivery
Subject Guides High High High
  • Immediate access [authorization required]
  • Document delivery
Google Overwhelming Overwhelming Varies;
poor to high
Limited access due to publishers' restrictions
Google Books High High High Limited access due to publishers' restrictions
Google Scholar High High Varies;
poor to high
Limited access due to publishers' restrictions - It improves when setting up your library links

Unavailable sources

You may need an information source which is not available neither from our library nor online through a publisher or an institution. In such a case you could refer to our library’s document delivery service and order book chapters and periodical articles. If you are a faculty or a staff member you can also request books.

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