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PSY 201 - Dr. Billingsley: Why use library resources?


Why should you use library resources?


Which search engine do you regularly use? Is it Google? That's not surprising. Follow the link below to an interactive graph from Statista that shows just how heavily Google dominates the market.


With over 4 billion users worldwide, Google is used by half of the world's population.

Open vs. Closed Internet


When you search using Google, you are searching the open internet. By open, we mean that it is a place for experimentation. You can create an entire website, and it doesn't change the network or affect other users who aren't interacting with your site. Literally, anyone can add anything to the open internet. Assume that you need to verify the credibility of everything that you encounter. Not to mention that Google's algorithms, targeted advertising, and ranked searching combine to show you what Google wants you to see and what Google thinks that you want to see. This can further contribute to confirmation bias (see below). 

  • It can be easy to verify credibility for many sites by looking at the URL and determining who created it (i.e. .edu = education, .org = nonprofit organization, .com = commercial site).


When you search using MU Libraries' Summon Search tool and specialized databases, you are searching the closed internet. Closed internet simply means that the resources are only available to a specific group of users (in this case, students, faculty, and staff at Marshall University). Many (if not most) of these resources exist behind paywalls, but your tuition pays for these subscriptions and secures your access.

  • With some exceptions, you can rely on the resources found within library databases to be credible. Seeking out peer-reviewed resources ensures that you are looking at the most credible sources.

What about Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is part of the open internet, but perhaps more troubling, it can be edited by almost anyone at any time, and you don't need an account to do so. Wikipedia entries are often edited in humorous ways, and it can be challenging to distinguish fact from fiction without consulting further, credible resources.

  • CREDO Reference (database) is a great alternative to Wikipedia. It contains entries from encyclopedias and dictionaries so its information is broad, but great when you need an unbias overview of a subject.

Confirmation bias - the tendency to cherry-pick information that supports or confirms our existing beliefs. 

  • example: searching for articles about climate change with the keywords "climate change hoax" will return results that support that belief, but will be of questionable credibility. "climate change statistics" or "climate change facts" should return results that are unbias and provide data to support their claims.