The video below gives a nice summary of why you may want to use databases for your search rather than a commercial search engine such as Google. However, if you would like to use Google or another search engine, make sure that you are getting the most out of it. This guide contains some top tips for using Google and Google Scholar, and ideas about alternative search engines you may want to use.
The Library subscribes to loads of databases, and these will lead you to high quality, academic resources. For more information on what resources are available in your subject area, take a look at your Subject Guide. The video below explains why you may want to use these databases.
Also, take a look at the general Google search tips below, as these will also work in Scholar.
Have a go at our interactive online tutorial on Google search skills to learn some top tips that will make your searches more effective!
Alternatively, we have a 12-minute video that can give you some tips for using Google and Google Scholar.
Verbatim can help you to perform an exact phrase search.
With the massive amount of information available to search on Google, this could really help to focus your search.
This option stops Google looking for synonyms and variations of your terms. It should also stop Google dropping terms from your search.
To use this option, in your search results list click on 'Tools', then from the 'All results' dropdown menu click 'Verbatim'
These commands work in both Google and Google Scholar. Below are a few of the available commands, along with examples of how you could use them.
Try using the Boolean operator OR to search for synonyms or alternative terms.
oil OR petroleum
marathon OR race
hematology OR haematology
USA OR America
However, sometimes it is better to run separate searches.
You can use a top level domain search to specify that you want to search within a certain type of site.
To search within one of these domains type: "site:" then the domain and your search.
Some domains you may want to use include:
This command allows you to restrict your results to the specified file type.
Use the command "filetype:"
Use this command for anything to do with numbers and quantities, years, temperatures, weights, distances, prices etc.
Type in your numbers separated by two dots.
electric car production forecasts 2020..2050
The "intitle:" operator searches for a single word or phrase in the title of the search result.
Use "allintitle:" if you want all of your terms to appear in the title.
The "intext:" operator searches for the terms inside the body of the text.
Words must be in the text of the page and exactly match your term.
You can find the Advanced Search in the settings menu of Google or Google Scholar. It will give you various options for making your search more specific and for narrowing your search.
Try it out to see if you can use it to improve your search results.
Google (or any search engine) is not searching the entirety of the live web as it is at any given moment. They index pages and search those to give you results. Each search engine will index different parts of the internet, so using just one may lead to you missing out on useful resources that fall outside of this.
If two people carry out the same search using Google, they will not necessarily see the same results. This is because Google is showing results it thinks each individual wants to see. While this can be useful in certain contexts, when we are researching a topic and trying to find us much information as we can about it, perhaps including varied points of view, it may restrict the information available to us.
For these reasons, you may want to try your search in a few different search engines. This guide highlights just a few of the available alternatives, but take a look and see what else you can find out there.