Web research

By the end of this module, you will be able to use:

  • Google, Google Scholar and Google Books.


Google is the best Web search tool. It is easy to use, indexes more of the Web than any other search engine and offers a range of useful features.

Basic searching

The Google home page is at http://www.google.com.

To perform a basic search, just enter your keywords in the Search Box and click on the Google Search button.

Google then displays a list of Web pages which match your keywords. With Google, you don't need to use the Boolean operator AND or the + sign. Google inserts an AND between keywords automatically. To search for a phrase, put the words in quotation marks (eg "cathy freeman").

By clicking on Search Tools under the search result, you can restrict your search results according to date and other criteria.

Modifying your search

Usually you start your Google search by using one or two keywords. If this process results in too many hits, you will need to narrow your search by adding additional keywords to the terms in the Search box. At other times, you need to exclude a term. To do this, you use the - (minus) operator.

To find pages about the comic book villain known as the Penguin, while excluding sites about Antarctic wildlife, you can use the search penguin -antarctica.

Using OR

Google supports the OR operator. Use this operator if you need to use a keyword which is spelt in a number of ways or to search on the basis of close synonyms: email OR e-mail.

Note that the OR operator must be in uppercase.

It is possible to combine the use of quotation marks and the OR operator. For example, to search for pages on organisational behaviour (Australian/English spelling) or organizational behavior (US spelling), you can enter the following search: "organisational behaviour" OR "organizational behavior".

Restricting your search using site: operator

You can restrict a search to a particular location on the Web (site). Do this by entering your keywords followed by the word "site" and a colon followed by the Web address.

For example, to find information about archaeology on the UNE site, enter the search archaeology site:www.une.edu.au.

You can use this trick to limit your search to particular countries (eg .uk) ular domains (eg .com).

Restricting your search by format

Google allows you to search for documents in different formats. These include Word files (.doc), PowerPoint files (.pptx), Excel spreadsheets (.xls) and publications in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf). This feature can be useful when you need to find specific sorts of information.

By restricting your search to PDFs, you will often improve the quality of your results. The PDF format is often used for academic or official documents.

To find Adobe Acrobat files on e-commerce, you can type: e-commerce filetype:pdf.

Even more

Google includes many more symbols that make your search results more precise. For example, you can put @ in front a word to search social media. For example, @twitter.

Using Google Scholar

Google Scholar allows you to run a Web search which is restricted to high-quality, scholarly literature.

If you run a Google Scholar search from a computer on the UNE campus, you will see a link which reads Full_text_available@UNE next to articles that you can access. Clicking on this link will take you to the full-text. In many cases, you can also access the full text by clicking on the article title.

In some cases, you will also see a domain name (eg [PDF] from bc.edu) to the right. Clicking on these links will often take you to the full-text of an article.

If you are off-campus, run your search through the Google Search box on the Library home page. Note that you will not be able to access the full-text of articles simply by clicking on the title, you need to go through the link on the right.

If you want simple, one-click access throught the article title, see the instructions on configuring Google Scholar on the Access problems page.

Using Google Scholar for your research

By default, Google Scholar presents search results by relevance, not by date. To find the newest articles, you can use Google Scholar's sort tools:

  • Click on Sort by date to show your search results sorted by date.
  • Click on Custom range, enter your preferred year range and then click on Search.

If you find an article that seems useful, click on the Related articles or Cited by link to see similar studies.

The Cited by link will take you to articles that have cited the original study. A benefit of using the Cited by link is that newer articles are more likely to be available in full-text.

Finally, clicking on the Cite icon Cite icon below an entry will allow you to see the bibliographic details for the article in different citation styles. You can past these into your assignment or download them to your preferred reference software.

Cite window

Using Google Books

Google Books is an excellent means of searching for new books on a topic and sampling their contents before you buy them or put in an document delivery request.

You can go to Google Books on the Web at http://books.google.com or use the search box on the Library home page.

Google Books will display a list of books which include your keywords in their contents. Click on the book title to view the page where your keyword or phrase appears.

The first time you use Google Books, you may need to follow the prompts to set up a Google Account. It only takes a few moments and there is no charge.

When viewing the contents of a book, you will see the Search in this book box on the right side of your screen.

You can enter keywords or phrases in this book to search the full-text of the book.


This module has dealt with the following points:

  • using Google.
  • using Google Scholar and Google Books.

Finding theses