Google Search Tips
Google is an internet institution. It is simple and intuitive to use and there are ways to make it even more productive:
- Google is not case sensitive
- Google returns pages that include all the search terms but it ignores common words like "where" or "how" and single letters and numbers
- To find an exact phrase, use quotation marks
- Using a plus sign (+) before a common word, single letter, or single number forces Google not to ignore it
- Using a minus sign (-) means "not," but leave a space before the "-"
You may limit results adding one of the limiters listed below to the search terms. To limit by type of website or domain use site: .com/edu/net. For example, searching for nursing site: mnu.edu returns results pages containing the word nursing from mnu.edu, while searching nursing site: edu will return sites mentioning nursing with .edu extensions.
- site:--limits results to one website or domain type
- filetype:--limits results to a specific file type such as a pdf
- link:--finds pages that link to the specified website
- location:--finds information limited to a specified location such as UK
- store:--limits search results to a specified store
Google has some powerful shortcuts. In the examples below, the inital word is the "operator" and it must appear. The word(s) following it are what the search will return. For example, author Jane Austen returns websites about Jane Austen. Searching Movie The Help will return websites mentioning the movie, while searching Book The Help will return websites mentioning the book.
- author name--information about author
- book title--information about the book
- define word--definition of the word
- define: word --websites defining the word
- gas prices zipcode--find gas prices by zipcode
- info website name--information about the website
- movie title--information about the movie
- movie zipcode--movies showing near the zipcode
- music composer--information about composer
- music song title--information about the composition
- stock ticker symbol--the current stock price
- time: City--the time in any city in the world
- weather City--the weather in any city in the world
- 555-555-5555--entering any phone number performs a reverse directory search
Google can convert almost any measurement using the form old units in new units. Below are examples:
- currency: 30 USD in Euros
- Mass: 200 lbs in kg
- Length: 50 km in miles
- Volume: half of a cup in teaspoons
- Area: 5 acres in sq km
- temperatures: 98.6 F in C
- time: 1 year in seconds
- Numbering systems: 1200 in hex, 22 in binary, XVII in numbers
Google can also perform calculations, including calculations involving trig functions.
How to evaluate websites
When doing research for academic purposes, it is important to use trustworthy sources. When you are evaluating a website, answer these questions:
- Who are the authors?
- What are their credentials?
- Are they qualified to discuss this information?
- Can you contact them?
- Why did they write it?
- Who is the publisher?
- What are the publisher's credentials?
- Are they promoting a particular agenda?
- Are they selling something?
- What opinions are they expressing?
- Is the information detailed?
- Are the sources of statistics cited?
- When was it written?
- Is the information current?
- When was the website last updated?
- Do the links work?
- Can you view the entire site?
- Are the links related to the content?
- Are images and text balanced?
Open Access Journals
Open access journals were created to increase scholarly communication by providing free access to fulltext scientific and scholarly articles that are peer reviewed or subject to editorial quality control. Below is a list of websites you may search for articles without cost.
- arXiv--Pronounced archive, this site has over 700,000 pre-published articles in math, phyics, quantitative biology, quantitative finance, and statistics
- BioMed Central--BioMed Central publishes 227 open access journals
- Berkeley Electronic Press--Bepress pioneered the Digital Commons and hosts the digital commons for over 100 institution with over 250,00 articles
- Directory of Open Access Journals DOAJ has over 7,000 journals
- JURN--JURN has over 4,000 scholarly e-journals in the arts and humanities
- PLoS--Public Library of Science publishes 7 peer reviewed scientific journals including biology, medicine, and genetics
- PubMed Central--PubMed is from the National Institute of Health National Library of medicine
Google Scholar allows you to search for scholarly literature such as articles, theses, abstracts, conference proceedings, books, and court opinions using the familiar Google search. Advanced search techniques allow you to search by author, publication, publication date, and subject areas. It contains all State appellate court and supreme court decisions since 1950, all US Federal district, appellate, tax, and bankruptcy court decisons sine 1923, and all US Supreme Court decisions since 1791.
The problem with Google Scholar is that is does not have access to many full-text articles. If you find articles of interest in Google Scholar, you can search the MNU databases for them. Google Scholar is often a good place to look for research topics and to find authors and journals related to your research topic.
Useful websites for quick information
Conversion Calculators for wind speed, distance, volume, weight, temperature
Metalib Federated search engine of U.S. Federal Government databases
Thomas The source for all Federal Legislative information including bills, resolutions, the congressional record, and more
USA.gov The official government portal including links to state and local governments
The problems with Wikipedia
Wikipedia is an amazing concept, but it is not appropriate for scholarly research because:
- the information may be incorrect
- the information can be biased
- the content can change quickly
If you are writing a research paper, you want to use sources that are peer-reviewed and vetted by experts.
Other Search Engines
While Google is the number one search engine, there are other good options. Each search engine will provide different results. Here are a few alternatives.
The information provided on this Mabee Library web site is obtained from a number of sources.
While every reasonable effort is made to keep this web site accurate and up-to-date, the Mabee Library cannot guarantee the accuracy of all of the information, especially information provided by external sources.
The Mabee Library accepts no liability for inaccurate, out-of-date, or misleading information.