Searches over 8 million patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and European Patent Office. Dates back to 1790. More info.
You can think of peer review as a "stamp of approval" from academic experts. When an article is published in a peer-reviewed journal, you can be certain that experts in the relevant field have read it and, independent of their own particular opinions, verified it to meet a high standard of scholarship.
Scholars rely on peer review to ensure that the scholarship they exchange with each other is always based in good research and the established standards of their discipline.
The peer review system is similar to quality control systems that you see in everyday life. Just as you might be reassured to see a Health Department certificate in the window of a restaurant or a "Verisign" logo on a website that requires you to enter sensitive information, the peer-review system provides an efficient standard of trustworthiness in academic scholarship.
Google returns results on the basis of popularity. While popular beliefs can be correct, there are equally numerous instances when they are not. Given that the Internet--the source of all of Google's results--includes all sorts of misinformation, you cannot be certain that results returned from Google are unbiased and completely reliable.
In everyday life, we use Google to find generally undisputed questions of fact. But "generally undisputed" topics usually are not the focus of academic scholarship, and strong reliability is important when you are creating arguments to support your research. Also, peer-reviewed scholarly articles often are behind paywalls in subscription databases and journals that cannot be searched by Google, and articles often do not appear on open websites.
Google Scholar, however, is a separate Google search engine that is able to search through journals and scholarly venues. It is the best place to start if you want to use Google and see the side box on this page for more information.
Wikipedia strives for a higher level of reliability with constantly updated articles and its own system of peer-review. Still, Wikipedia has different priorities than an academic peer-reviewed resource, and therefore it should not be used in place of an academic source.
Wikipedia's design trades absolute reliability for convenience and quick updating. You can never be certain that what you read on Wikipedia doesn't include misinformation that has yet to be corrected. Likewise, while Wikipedia does include a system for citation and the editorial evaluation of its entries, its real-time and open updating means that you can never be absolutely certain you're reading accurate information.
But perhaps most important fact to remember is that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. Encyclopedias are general information sources that are best used for gaining a quick overview of a topic, and they provide a list of resources and topics to guide you in further exploration. Encyclopedia articles generally avoid controversy, and the low level of detail provided by an encyclopedia is not sufficient for your academic research.
You can use Wikipedia as a starting point to figure out the initial facts about a topic and related information: but from there, use the databases on the Library website to find reliable research materials.
Databases are accessible on or off campus. Your 14-digit student ID number is used for authentication from outside Kettering's network.
If you do not have your student number, please contact the library.