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EGL 102 - Robert Serb - Spring 2024

Research Bites: Search Better with Google

Successful Google Search

When using Google to find articles, here are some steps for making your search more effective:

  • Use the correct database for the kind of search you are conducting. 
    • For general searches of popular sources, use regular Google.
    • For academic or scholarly articles, use Google Scholar.
    • To browse Google's database of digitized book sections, use Google Books.
    • Google's Advanced Search page enables you to limit your search by date range, language, and file type (.pdf, .doc, .jpeg, etc.) while also giving you the ability to bring up similar entries or websites from a particular locale. 
  • To use boolean search terms (AND, OR, NOT).
    • Google implies "and" when you search. So, if you type Tom Jerry, it assumes Tom and Jerry.
    • Google only recognizes "OR" when it is capitalized. 
    • Instead of NOT, Google uses a minus sign. So, Chicago NOT New York would be Chicago - New York.
  • Use quotation marks to indicate words that should be grouped together, like "Wyatt Earp."
  • To direct Google to search for specific domain types, type "site:".For instance: global warming

Using Google Scholar

From Google Scholar's Overview:

Search Tips

Get the most out of Google Scholar with some helpful tips on searches, email alerts, citation export, and more.

Finding recent papers

Your search results are normally sorted by relevance, not by date. To find newer articles, try the following options in the left sidebar:

  1. click "Since Year" to show only recently published papers, sorted by relevance;
  2. click "Sort by date" to show just the new additions, sorted by date;
  3. click the envelope icon to have new results periodically delivered by email.

Locating the full text of an article

Abstracts are freely available for most of the articles. Alas, reading the entire article may require a subscription. Here're a few things to try:

  1. click a library link, e.g., "FindIt@Harvard", to the right of the search result;
  2. click a link labeled [PDF] to the right of the search result;
  3. click "All versions" under the search result and check out the alternative sources;
  4. click "Related articles" or "Cited by" under the search result to explore similar articles.

If you're affiliated with a university, but don't see links such as "FindIt@Harvard", please check with your local library about the best way to access their online subscriptions. You may need to do search from a computer on campus, or to configure your browser to use a library proxy.

Getting better answers

  • If you're new to the subject, it may be helpful to pick up the terminology from secondary sources. E.g., a Wikipedia article for "overweight" might suggest a Scholar search for "pediatric hyperalimentation".

  • If the search results are too specific for your needs, check out what they're citing in their "References" sections. Referenced works are often more general in nature.

  • Similarly, if the search results are too basic for you, click "Cited by" to see newer papers that referenced them. These newer papers will often be more specific.

  • Explore! There's rarely a single answer to a research question. Click "Related articles" or "Cited by" to see closely related work, or search for author's name and see what else they have written.