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Google for Academic Research

Search Engines

Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Safari are some of the most popular search engines. This guide explains how to more effectively search the internet. Though it is Google specific, most of these techniques can be applied to any other search engine.

Learn More about Google

Google is a large search engine which can search very generally or very specifically. While you probably already use Google in your daily life, this guide will explore ways to use Google to meet your research needs.

Better Searches

  • Keep it simple.
  • Think how the page you are looking for will be written.

A search engine is not a human: it is a program that matches the words you give to pages on the web. Use the words that are most likely to appear on the page. For example, asking [ where are bats considered an omen of good luck? ] is very clear to a person, but the document that gives the answer may not have those words. Instead, use the query [ bats are considered good luck in ] or even just [ bats good luck ], because that is probably what the right page will say.

  • Describe what you need with as few words as possible.

The goal of each word in a search query is to focus it further. Since all words are used, each additional word limits the results. If you limit too much, you can miss a lot of useful information. Alternately, Google might search for some, not all of the terms, giving you results that aren't relevant.

  • Choose descriptive words.

The more unique the word is, the more likely you are to get relevant results. Words that are not very descriptive, like 'article,' 'website,' 'company,' or 'info,' are usually not needed. Keep in mind that even if the word has the correct meaning but it is not the one most people use, it may not match the pages you need.