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Gray literature 101: Gray Lit resources

Gray literature 101: What it is, where it is, and how to find it.

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Why Use Academic Databases?

Q: Why use databases? Why can't I just search with Google?

A: Because the web isn't inherently reliable. Anyone can post anything. That's fine for some things, like purchasing something, or looking for information about an organization, but it's not good for finding accurate, verifiable information on academic topics.

Q: What's the difference between using databases and using the catalog to find journals?

A: The library catalog is a great tool, but Academic Databases aren't designed to just find journals; they allow you to search for particular articles within journals using a tool very similar to a web search engine. That makes finding high quality sources relatively easy.

Q: That's all fine, but my instructor says I can only use so many electronic sources, and I've already reached my limit. Doesn't that mean no databases?

A: Many of the articles are stored electronically in databases, or linked from them, but those articles are just electronic versions of articles that have been published in print. Usually instructors mean web pages, or similar sources when they impose limits on digital sources. There are even some born digital articles in online journals that your instructor may be willing to be flexible about. When in doubt, ask, but most instructors want you to use Academic Databases.

Q: What if I need more help?

A: Contact a research librarian; we can show you what you need to know!