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Legal Research Skills Guide: Effective internet searching

When you should use Google

When doing legal research, Google is probably not the place you want to start. Because anyone can publish anything on the internet, there is a lot of information to sift through when searching the web and you can also end up with a lot of irrelevant and/or unreliable information.

Google can be good place to search when you're looking for background information and additional resources outside of scholarly publications. These resources, often referred to as grey literature, can include information about government departments, consumer issues, companies, statistics, latest news and more. Google is also a place to search when you want to find a specific resource that isn't showing up in the Library's collection.

There are some tips and tricks you can implement to make the most out of Google Search and improve the relevance and quality of your results. These strategies are slightly different to those offered in Primo Search and journal databases.

While Google Search does offer an Advanced Search, which you might like to use, you can use these strategies within the basic search box to provide you with the same control.

Search Strategies

You can use these strategies to search effectively in Google and Google Scholar.

Search for an exact phrase, or match

Put your search terms in quotation marks

"climate change"
Exclude a word from your search

Put a dash - before any word you want to exclude

Port corrosion -phone
Include both terms in your results

Put a + before any word that you want to include

"data mining" +intelligence

Search within a range of numbers

Use two periods .. between the numbers to return results within that range

sea temperature 2012..2017
Search within a website (Google only)

Use site: to search within a particular web address or to limit your results to a domain type

site: abs.gov.au

site:.edu
Limit by geographical area or time frame (Google only) Use the Google Tools drop down options to limit to Australian results and/or select a time frame for your results.

Using Google effectively