Luke Bradford-Winkler – Database vs. Search Engine

A.      I got my best results using WorldCat. The other two databases did not have as much variety as WorldCat. They allowed me to set a range for the publication date, which I made from 1950-1970, but they did not return any results matching this criterion. WorldCat, on the other hand, returned a wide range of results fitting this criterion. I looked at several books using WorldCat. Unfortunately, Trinity College does not own any of them. However, many promising books were owned by other schools in Connecticut. The student could simply ask for an interlibrary loan. Successful search terms included: “Patty Hearst,” “Patty Hearst scandal,” “Patty Hearst Trial,” “Brainwashing United States,” and “Brainwashing America.” Google books did not allow me to set a publication range so my results were poor. Google Scholar let me set a publication range but the results were mostly articles. I could not find a way to limit the search to books.
B.      I got my best results using the Readers Guide Full Text database. This database is known for its large selection of popular mainstream periodicals. I tried a wide variety of search terms specifically relating to technology and human cognition. For each search, I found a good amount of viable results. In order to focus on popular magazines, I limited my search by selecting the magazine search option.  For my Google search, I used Google scholar which focuses on articles. Like the Readers Guide Full Text database, it allows users to access popular articles by selecting a desired publication range. The results I found using Google scholar were of equal quality. However, the Readers Guide Full Text database was easier to use and read. Successful search terms for the database and Google included “technology and cognition,” “how technology affects thinking,” and “technology and society.”
C.      The best database is Sociological Abstracts. This database focuses  on sociology and the behavioral sciences. The database returned a lot of good results. Furthermore, it allowed me to search specifically for charts and graphs by clicking the “figures and tables” tab at the top of the screen. The vast majority of tables and charts were published by scholarly journals. Some were published by independent researchers. Both types of publishers, journals and researchers, are reputable because I found them using the Sociological Abstracts database. The Sociological Abstracts database only includes scholarly work. Furthermore, it provides citations for each result, allowing users to verify a result’s validity themselves.  Successful search terms included “race and income inequality,” “income inequality,” and “race inequality.” Like the other search scenarios, Google scholar was helpful. However, for this scenario in particular, Google images was also useful. Google Images returned many graphs and charts which included links to websites with a lot of information about race and income inequality. The user simply has to make sure that the website he or she visits is credible. For example, a lot of credible websites were from mainstream news organizations.