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Can I just Google?

Google is useful for:

  • defining terms and concepts
  • locating images and video resources
  • finding official statistical data
  • finding government reports
  • searching for specific websites

Google is not useful for:

  • looking for scholarly resources
  • looking for peer reviewed resources
    • this is when you should use Library Search and our extensive databases

Can I use Google Scholar?

Google Scholar searches for academic sources. It can be useful for: 

  • looking for grey literature such as conference proceedings
  • finding who has cited an article
  • locating obscure references or items cited incorrectly

Before you search

Some simple planning before you start can make your search more effective:

  • break down your topic into key concepts to know exactly what you are looking for
  • keep your search words simple and put the most important word/s first
  • choose descriptive words; use nouns where possible
  • don't use 'Stop' words which search engines are programmed to ignore
     "how", "because" or "what'' are examples of stop words   
  • use words a relevant website is likely to use

Google isn't the only search engine you can use. Do your search in different search engines and compare the results.


Analyse your topic