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Research Skills: Google/Internet searching

Information to help students find, write, evaluate and reference information for their assignments.

Google vs Library sources

Many students use Google as their first source of information. However, you need to be more careful evaluating information found on Google than when using Library resources.  Material may be  :

  • biased
  • out of date
  • incorrect

You can also end up with so many results that it is difficult to sift through and find the best information

 Unlike formally published works, anyone can upload material to the internet, without any quality control processes.  In comparison, library materials are selected in conjunction with teaching staff to ensure quality and relevance to your study. 

Click on Evaluation  for further details or read on for tips to make your google searches more effective. 

Quality information available via a Google search

In some cases, an internet search is a great place to find information. Freely available, quality information sources include:

  • Government websites - local, state and federal government websites provide information on policy, rules, regulations, statistics and more. Read the Google Search Tips box on this page to see how to limit your search to government websites
  • Statistics - the Australian Bureau of Statistics provides access to high quality statistics on a huge range of topics
  • Legislation and regulations - Federal and state regulations and legislation can be freely accessed from the Australian Legal Information Institute
  • Biomedical citations - PubMed provides details of more than 24 million biomedical publications, although full text access will not always be available
  • And more...

Check the Information Sources section of this guide to learn about various information sources, and what they are best suited for.

 

Next

Click to move to Step 3: Information Sources

Google search tips

Advanced search  Google's advanced search helps you refine and limit your search without having to use the terminology below. All of the refinements below, and more, are available using the advanced search screen.

Domain: Information at the end of the URL relates to the domain of that website e.g

  • .gov for government websites
  • .edu for educational websites
  • .org for community organisations
  • .com for commercial sites
  • .au for Australian sites

Limit your search to a specific domain by entering it in the search box

   For example:    domain:edu 

Exclude terms - use the minus sign to exclude terms from your search 

   For example:    windows -Microsoft

Expand your search - use OR between search terms to find results containing any of the terms used (otherwise results will only include those that contain all the search terms)

   For example:    Dogs OR Wolves

Phrase search - use quotation marks to search for exact phrases

   For example:    "Charles Dickens"

Result types - limit your results to specific types of items by clicking the category you want on the search result screen

   For example: images

   You can also search for a specific type of file by selecting the format you want (e.g. PDF, html) in the advanced search screen

Truncation - use * to include various endings in your search 

   For example: nurs* will return results for nurse, nurses, nursing etc.

 

Understanding your search results

Google returns search results in relevance order, based on a very complicated formula. The highest ranked hits may not be the most suitable ones for you -  refining your search can help give better results.

For more information:

Google scholar

Google scholar limits results from a standard google search to scholarly and research material. Results come from individual authors, Institutional repositories, academic publishers and more.  Resource types include: 

  • journal articles
  • theses
  • conference papers
  • books.

Google scholar includes some material that is freely available online, and some that requires a payment to view.

If you are using Google scholar on campus, search results that are accessible to you via the Box Hill institute library databases collection will generally include a direct link to the full text content.

Off campus users can set Google scholar up to link through to the Box Hill Library database resources as follows:

    • In Google Scholar, go to settings

    • Select ‘Library links’ on the left hand side of the screen

    • Enter Box Hill in the search box and hit enter

    • Box Hill Institute- Library  Full text should appear below the search box – select this, and save.

If Google scholar results include books for which only a limited portion of text is accessible, check the library catalogue for a copy that you can borrow instead.

Where search results include more than one version of the same article, the full text may be available on some, but not others.

Scholar also provides details of how many times results have been cited by other articles, and links to related articles.

The general google search tips on this page also apply to Google scholar.

For more information:

About Google scholar

Google scholar search tips

 

Google books

Google books provides details for millions of books. You may be able to access:

  • the full text of the book
  • a selection of sample pages
  • basic publication details.

Full text is usually available for older titles that are out of copyright, with more titles being scanned and added on a daily basis. If full text is not available, the portion that you can view may be sufficient for your needs. Alternatively, you may be able to access titles from the Box Hill Institute or other libraries.

The basic Google search tips box on this page also applies to Google books.

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