Research Papers Library

Will Web Search Engines Replace Bibliographic Databases in the Systematic Identification of Research?

The availability of web search engines provides opportunities in addition to those provided by bibliographic databases for identifying academic literature, but their usefulness for retrieving research is uncertain. A rigorous literature search was undertaken to investigate whether web search engines might replace bibliographic databases, using empirical research in health and social care as a case study. Eight databases and five web search engines were searched between 20 July and 6 August 2015. Sixteen unique studies that compared at least one database with at least one web search engine were examined, as well as drawing lessons from the authors’ own search process. Web search engines were limited in that the searcher cannot be certain that the principles of Boolean logic will apply and they were more limited than bibliographic databases in their functions such as exporting abstracts. Recommendations are made for improving the rigour and quality of reporting studies of academic literature searching.

Download PDF


World's leading professional association of Internet Research Specialists - We deliver Knowledge, Education, Training, and Certification in the field of Professional Online Research. The AOFIRS is considered a major contributor in improving Web Search Skills and recognizes Online Research work as a full-time occupation for those that use the Internet as their primary source of information.

Get Exclusive Research Tips in Your Inbox

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.