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Search the Web: sub-module 3 of 5 of how to research

Learn some of the best strategies for searching the web, including powerful Google tips and tricks, and using Google Scholar for locating scholarly journal articles on the web, and in your library's databases. 


Web Search Tips

  • Before you startThink about what kind of information you need, and where it might come from. Do you need statistics, opinions, scholarly articles, government reports, a corporate annual report, etc.? See the "Types of Websites" video, on the right, for more ideas.
  • Use Google filtersGoogle provides filters that allow you to limit your results by date range, format, country of upload, and more. Check out the menu of options at the top of your results page, and see the video to the right on this page for tips. 
  • Google ScholarTry Google Scholar to find open access scholarly articles AND scholarly articles in your college's library databases. See the video below for tips.
  • Try other search enginesGoogle is great, but there are many other search engines (opens in new window), and you'll get different results with each. Try DuckDuckGo (opens in new window), Quora (opens in new window), WolframAlpha (opens in new window)or Boardreader (opens in new window).

Create a Google Alert to Track a Topic

About Google Alerts

Google Alerts are an excellent way of monitoring information. The Alerts are like your personalized research assistant, which, once setup, identify new content published on your topic, and send it to you via email, or push it to an RSS feed reader. 

Learn more about Alerts by watching the short video, courtesy of Google News Lab. 

This video falls outside the Creative Commons license of The Learning Portal.

Step 1: Google Alerts Page

Go to the Google Alerts page: opens in new window

google alerts screen shot

Step 2: Search Term

Type your keywords or phrases in the search box.

google alerts keyword search

Tip: remember to use quotation marks around any exact phrases, e.g. "climate change", to keep the words together and in the same order.

Step 3: Customizing

Customize your alert. Select frequency, type of source (news, video, etc.), language, region, and number of resources per alert. Leave your email address, and 'Create Alert'.

google alerts options

Searching Google

Google is a powerful search tool, but its additional features are underutilized. Learn about the various filtering and advanced search features available to you, by watching the videos below. Here's a quick recap:

  1. Filter search results by type: images, video, news, etc. using the options under the search box.
  2. Narrow down results by country, and publication date by first clicking the Tools link under the search box.
  3. Use "quotation marks" to search for an exact phrase.
  4. The boolean operator OR helps when searching for synonyms.
  5. A dash right before a -term, will exclude it from results.
  6. filetype: will search for specific files.
  7. site: will find info published on a specific site, or domain.
  8. Advanced Search opens in new window is a guided search interface, which will help you search all of the above from one place.