12 October 2009

Google first things

Last Friday we spoke with the first year 2+2 students about Google and using it for research. Here are several links and dome comments from that session.

Google advises to start searching with as few words as possible; then use a link "Search within results" in the bottom of the results page to narrow down your search. Put inverted commas (i.e. "") around the search phrase if you want Google to search for the phrase as you typed it (e.g. "Every child matters" which is the title of the policy document). For Google's own advice how to use it, see http://www.google.com/support/websearch/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=134479

Note a radio button "Pages from the UK" just below the search box; very often it is very helpful to limit the result to only British websites, e.g. when researching the state of education, health system etc. in this country and nowhere else.

Use Advanced search (a link next to the search bar) to be more specific, e.g. search only for documents in a particular format, like PDF. Advanced search is very easy to use, but it is extremely powerful for doing research.

Note also a link "definition" just above the search results on the right side of the screen. It is a kind of dictionary, encyclopaedia and thesaurus at the same time. Well worth of using for quick enquiries.

Google Scholar (scholar.google.co.uk) searches only for what Google believes to be academic quality content. Most often these will be articles from peer-reviewed journals. Many of them are not available free of charge, but before giving up, check all the links under "all x versions" where x is the number of places a particular article has been published. Sometimes you'll find a free version. Before searching in Google Scholar, login into your Warwick system - the university may subscribe to some resources you'll find there; then you'll get free access to those texts.

Google Books (books.google.com) is another great place to find resources for research. Look for e-books on limited preview - you'll see large chunks of very useful books free of charge. E-books are great as you can search within them - a full text search.


  1. Thank you Ihar although I've been searching on google for years, this is the first time I been shown how to make the best of searches. Cheers

  2. Great! I have enjoyed it myself too - putting together things I have come across over the years.