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Saint Stephen's iCentre  

Last Updated: Oct 31, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Google Search Strategies for Students

Adapted from 10 Important Google Search Strategies for Students and Teachers by Richard Byrne –

1. Not every question needs to be Googled.
One bad habit that is difficult to break is simply entering into Google the first thing that comes to mind. While this strategy can sometimes work, it often leads to a lot of time wasted on searches for information that students already have. Before embarking on a research project, make a list of the things you already know about the topic you plan to research. Look in your notes to see if you already have information on the topic.

2. Think like someone else.
When formulating search phrases, it can be helpful to think about the words that someone else might use to describe your topic, question, or problem. Try using those terms instead of your own.

3. Open the Advanced Search menu.
The advanced search menu is often overlooked. It is found by clicking “Settings” which appears in the upper middle of the search results page. Note that Google often changes the way to get to this page so it’s probably best to search google advanced search. In that menu you will find tools for refining search results by file type, domain, language, and more.

4. Site-Specific Searching.
Limit search results to a specific top-level domain or to a specific site. For example, if I wanted my search results to be limited to links from .edu sites, I would type “” (or enter .edu in the site or domain limitation box if using advanced search).

5. Search by file type.
Search by file type allows you to find results according to file format. For example, to search for PDFs only, use the advanced search function to select the file type .ppt, or type “filetype:pdf” into the Google search box along with your search terms.

6. Remember that Google isn’t the only search engine.
Have a look at your iCentre website which contains a number of alternative search engines in addition to the databases to which we subscribe. Also, don’t forget that your FREE GCCC Library membership grants you access to all of their databases and digital resources.

7. Try Google Scholar.
Search Google Scholar to find academic, peer-reviewed articles on your topic. Often these are articles that you would not find using a typical Google search. Use the Library Links option to link your account with a University library (provided you have access) to obtain full-text articles. In Google Scholar, the advanced menu is accessible by clicking the drop-down arrow to the right of the search box.

8. Search within a search result.
How often do you simply glance at the webpages you open from the search results page? Or worse yet, only read the brief snippet that appears below the links in a search results page? The reason for this is often that “it takes too long to read the whole page.” To remedy this, use “Ctrl F” (“Command F” if you’re a rebel with a Mac) when you open a webpage from the search results page. This shortcut allows you to search within any webpage for any letter, word, or phrase. This also works for searching within PDFs and other documents that students may download during a web search.


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.


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.



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.


Source Credibility




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.



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


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