Search engines such as Google and Yahoo are capable of finding large amounts of information quickly on the Web and have become a very popular way to look for many different kinds of information. You probably know how to use search engines already, but there may be ways you could use them even more effectively.
How Search Engines Work
Most search engines try to match the keywords that have been typed with words included somewhere on a webpage. Any page that includes those keywords will be returned. This means that if the keywords are ambiguous or too general, a very large number of irrelevant results may appear.
Both Google and Yahoo can recognize and correct commonly misspelled words. However, they cannot distinguish among various meanings of a word or interpret the content of a page.
By default, most search engines will only return pages that include all of the keywords in a search. This is the same as using AND in a database search.
Searching More Effectively
Enclose the words you want to search in quotation marks. The search engine will look for pages containing those words in exactly that order.
Many search engines offer an advanced search feature which allows more specifics to be entered in a search. The advanced feature is usually located below or to the right of the search box, as it is in Google. Since Google Advanced Search and Yahoo Advanced Search have similar interfaces, only Google's is shown here.
- The bar at the top shows you what your search would look like in a standard Google search.
- All these words is the same as the default search, or AND in a library database.
- This exact wording or phrase is the same as enclosing your search in quotes.
- One or more of these words is the same as using OR in a database. This means that pages will be returned if they include at least one of your search terms.
- Search within a site or domain searches for information on a particular site or type of site. You could search within http://qcpages.qc.cuny.edu/Library/ to find information on the Queens College Library's website, or within .edu to only search pages sponsored by universities or other educational organizations.
These are only the basics of web searching. Much more information is available in this article which includes more specialized commands and detailed search advice.
Google Scholar is different from standard Google because it searches scholarly literature rather than the general Web. Since Google does not have access to as many journals as library databases do, you may find fewer articles through Google, but you may find some you had overlooked elsewhere.
When you access Google Scholar from Queens College or through the Queens College Library site, you will see links to material that is available through the Queens College Library:
- “Find Fulltext at QC” will take you right to the full text of the article.
- Otherwise the “Other options at QC” link will give you the option of ordering the article through Interlibrary Loan.