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Saint Stephen's iCentre  

Last Updated: Aug 21, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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RefSeek - Academic Search Engine

RefSeek is a web search engine for students and researchers that aims to make academic information easily accessible to everyone. RefSeek searches more than one billion documents, including web pages, books, encyclopedias, journals, and newspapers.


Google Search Query Formation

Yes, these guys are a bit old and boring - but if you can look past that, they have some really good tips for refining your search query. The following 6 minutes may save you a couple of hours in the long run...


Beyond Google

Google is terrific, but it may not always be the best search engine for the task. Consider using some of the following search engines to increase your chance of locating quality educational material.


A computational knowledge engine that answers factual queries by computing the answer. For example, you could ask "What country is Timbuktu in?"  This is a great search engine for Maths, Chemistry, Geography and statistics.



Formerly called 'Clusty' for its ability to organise results in clusters. Great for refining your search and getting new ideas for search terms.




An Australian and New Zealand search engine. You can limit your query to regional content only or search worldwide.


Sweet Search is a search engine for students.  It searches over 30,000 web sites that have been filtered and approved by a team of research experts, teachers and librarians.



1. Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

This trick is a simple one: searching a phrase in quotation marks will yield only pages with the same words in the same order. It’s one of the most vital search tips, especially useful if you’re trying to find results containing a specific a phrase.

2. Use the minus sign to eliminate results containing certain words

You’ll want to eliminate results with certain words if you’re trying to search for a term that’s generating a lot of results that aren’t of interest to you. Figure out what terms you’re not interested in (e.g. jaguar -car) and re-run the search.

3. Use “DEFINE:” to learn the meaning of words—slang included

Streamline the dictionary process by using, for example, “DEFINE: mortgage.” For words that appear in the dictionary, you’ll be able to see etymology and a graph of its use over time alongside the definition. Google will even sift the web to define slang words or acronyms. Try out “DEFINE: bae” or “DEFINE: SMH”.

4. Search for specific file types

To limit search results to return just specific file types, include “file:xxx” (with ‘xxx’ being the file type) in your search. For example: file:pdf will return just PDF files in your search results.

5. Site-Specific Search

Include “” in your search (you don’t need the quotes, that’s just for emphasis). For example, if your search includes, you’ll get search results that are only from the site.

6. Search images using images

Ever come across a photo that looks strangely familiar? Or if you want to know where it came from? If you save the image, and then search it on Google Images (with the camera button), you’ll be able to see similar images on the web.

7. Just for Fun - Play Atari Breakout by searching it on Google Images

The legendary brick breaker game is available for easy access on Google. Just search “Atari Breakout” (without quotes) on Google Images and enjoy.




JURN: Academic Articles

JURN was created and is curated and maintained by a British school teacher. The Web is so huge now that useful material can easily become lost in the immensity of it all, so Google was used to build a simple direct interface to aid in the finding of full-text open journal articles and book chapters.



instaGrok is an interactive search engine that displays the context of any topic as a dynamic, visual web of important concepts and relationships.  



GOORU is an open and collaborative online community providing access to millions of multimedia resources and quiz questions.  Free learning materials can be found, rated, remixed, and shared as playlists with fellow users.


Web Search Strategies in Plain English

Evaluating Web Sites


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