Tips for Better Search Results

There are advanced search strategies that you can use to get relevant information from Google Scholar and other search engines. Here is a summary of some helpful techniques:

Be specific. Use nouns and unique words. Put the most important words first. Use multiple terms when possible If you were interested in bias in newspaper reporting you could search for:

  • newspapers bias slant censorship
  • journalism bias slant censorship
Use quotes around phrases to allow the search engine to search for the words as a phrase, not as separate words To look for a phrase, rather than searching for the individual words, use quotes around it:

  • “world health organization”
  • “bias in newspapers”
Use a plus sign + in front of a word or a phrase to require it to appear in the search results A word or a phrase preceded by a + must be present in all pages returned:

  • +”absentee voting”
  • +”assisted suicide”
Use a minus sign – in front of a word to exclude it from the results If you wanted pages on hoarding but not animal hoarding you can prevent the word “animal” from being included:

  • hoarding -animal
Use lower case letters to find words that are either lower and upper case
  • japanese internment “world war ii”
Use parentheses around terms that are alike. Enter connectors in capital letters
  • (adolescents OR teenagers)
  • television AND children


More Tips

  • Use words like policy or research in your search to find sites that are more reliable.
  • Use words like controversydebate, or issue to find sites that cover both sides of an issue.
  • Some search engines offer advanced features such as phrase searching, limiting, and Boolean searching in pull-down boxes.
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