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INF111 Research Skills Guide: Use Google Search

Google Search

Google Search is a search tool that indexes many websites and uses complex algorithms to deliver personalised content to its users. These algorithms can cause two people who search Google using the same keywords to receive different results.

Because anyone can publish anything on the internet, there is a lot of information to sift through when searching the web. However, there are ways to make the most out of Google Search to find useful information for your assessment tasks.

Search Strategies in Google Search

While Google Search does offer an Advanced Search, which you might like to use, there are a number of search strategies you can employ within the basic search box that provide you with the same control. These strategies are different to those offered in Primo Search and journal databases.

Tip: You can use most of these strategies in Google Scholar, too.


Keyword search

Google defaults to a keyword search, which means that it will generally presume all keywords are combined using the Boolean operator, AND, but it does attempt to recognise phrases, too.

If you want to search for sites that contain the words teacher and student, you would type it like this:

  • library makerspace

But you can use AND if you wish:

  • library AND makerspace

Your results may differ between these due to the way Google's algorithm works, though the top hits should be relatively similar.


Phrasing

If you want to search for a phrase, type it like this:

  • "information organisation"

Synonyms/ Interchangeable terms

If you want to search for synonyms or interchangeable terms, type them like this:

  • university|academic

You could also type it as:

  • university OR academic

Exclusions

If you don't want to see a particular keyword in your results, type it like this:

  • -teacher

Document type

If you are searching for a particular kind of document, type it like this:

  • filetype:pdf
  • filetype:doc

Site search

If you want to search within a particular domain or website, type it like this:

  • site:gov.au
  • site:edu.au
  • site:abs.gov.au

This is an incredibly useful and powerful tool in Google Search, where you are searching the open web. It is not a great strategy to use in Google Scholar.


Examples

Here are some examples of how you can combine these search strategies:

  • site:gov.au library history
  • site:csu.edu.au "online library workshop"

Activity

Use Google Search to find some information about your assignment topic.

Remember, websites can be used to:

  • Locate reports and documents from government, academic, or professional organisations;
  • Find background or introductory information; and
  • Familiarise yourself with a topic.

Using google effectively

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