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Research Help

This guide will help you through the research process.

Get More Out Of Google

Using advanced search techniques in Google will help you find information depending on what your researching. This is particularly true when doing private company or emerging/niche market research.

Below are some strategies you can use to more effectively use Google to find specific information.

1. Search for specific file types

You can limit Google searches to particular files such as PDF, PowerPoint, etc. This can be helpful when looking for reports, particularly by professional associations, organizations, and governments.

Type in Google your search terms + filetype:ppt. Example search: nanotechnology market filetype:pdf

2. Search for specific domains

You can also limit results to sites with specific domains, such as .org, .edu, .mil, or .gov.

Type in Google your search terms + Example search: nanotechnology market

*Tip: Combine tips 1 and 2 for even more advanced searching. Example search: nanotechnology market filetype:pdf

3. Search for other country's versions of Google

When you search, you are searching the U.S.'s version of Google. If you know the top-level country code domain for other countries, you can search their version of Keep in mind that this will not necessarily change the language of the results you see, but will show you results Google thinks are more relevant to those in that country. This can be helpful when doing international research.

Example: Go to (Germany's version). Search for government privacy.

* Tip: You can also combine tips 2 and 3 to search for sites with a specific country's code. Example search: government privacy

4. Utilize Google Scholar

Google Scholar allows you to search for primarily scholarly or academic articles. It pulls from various sources, including open access (freely available) online journals, journal publishers, and institutional repositories (where faculty, staff, and students can place their academic work online).

For more information, check out these Google Scholar Search Tips.

5. Learn how to develop effective keywords

Figuring out the best way to structure or word your search can be challenging. In general, follow these guidelines:

  • Start with broader searches, then narrow your focus.
    • This will both help you not miss important information, but also learn more about your topic.
    • For example, first start searching for autonomous vehicles, and then drill down to self-driving cars.
  • Keep a running list of terms you have tried, where you have tried them, and what worked and what didn't.
    • This will help you reduce wasted effort redoing work you've already done.
  • Use synonyms and any suggested subject terms or keywords
    • i.e. mobile banking, mobile commerce, mobile money, transfer payments
  • Add descriptive keywords like "forecast," "market," and "sales" to your search to retrieve more relevant results.

7. Learn more Advanced Google tips and tricks

Check out this infographic on more ways to use advanced Google search tricks.

Take a free online course offered by experts at Google to learn how to become a "power searcher."

Ways to Search

  • keyword search will check the terms you enter against almost every word in every part of an item's catalog record. If you are not sure of the exact title, perform a keyword search with the words you know (and the author's last name, if you know it). This is often the easiest way to begin searching and is usually the default way. 
  • If you know the name of the book you need, simply perform a title search in the library catalog. Use quotes around phrases for the best results. 
  • An author search will result in all the books written by that particular author.
  • There are several ways to find books using a subject/topic. You can perform a simple keyword search, or you narrow your results by using a subject search. This will search the subject headings that have been assigned to an item. Subject headings tell you what an item is about. This is especially helpful if you want to narrow your results to items about a author and not items by the author. 

Utilizing Your Search Terms

OR: finds the specified search terms together or separately (gets more results)

i.e.: apples or oranges

AND (+): requires that all search terms be present.

i.e.: cats and dogs

NOT(-): excludes that term from the results (narrows results)

i.e.: bush not president

~word: finds synonyms of the word

i.e.: dogs and ~canines

"Quotation marks" locate exact terms "inside the quotes"

i.e.: "British literature" or "special education"

Truncation and Wildcard(*, ?,#) searches for all variations of a word and alternate spellings, particularly in databases such as EBSCOhost

Truncation finds alternate endings of a word, i.e., child* = children, childhood, childlike, etc.

Wildcard ? replaces a single character in a word, i.e.: te?t = tent, test and text

Wildcard # searches for possible alternate spellings, i.e., colo#r = color or colour (American vs British spelling)

Using Limits in Your Search

What are limits and why use them?

Limits are helpful in focusing your search and narrowing your results. Once you have done the initial search, you can use some limits to help narrow your results to a more manageable amount of information.

  • Full text: find only the articles available in full text **TIP: you can request an article that isn't available full text through Interlibrary Loan
  • Scholarly/Peer review: limit to only peer-reviewed or scholarly articles
  • Date: limit results to a specific time frame
  • Publication type: limit results to research articles, reviews, systematic reviews, and evidence-based practice