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Research Beyond Google

Resources for teaching and learning, available locally and through the open Web.

More tips

Here are a few more tricks for effective searching:

  • Be specific. Consider including the location, time period, synonyms or specific terminology. 
  • Link your terms in specific ways. Using AND, OR, NOT can structure the search engines' assumptions about the order in which the terms should appear in a webpage.
  • Get rid of what you don’t need or want, and eliminate redundancies.


Use the minus sign ( - ) to screen out whole categories of webpages that you don't want. Maybe you want scholarly information and you know that it's unlikely that you'll find it on a commercial website.To get rid of all commercial websites, add this to the end of your search term: ''. 

For even more tips and tricks, see the Unofficial Google Advanced Search.

Build Strong Search Terms

Writing a search statement

Keep a list of synonyms for possible keywords to be used in catalogue and database searching, and keep track of which ones work best where. Then consider related terms. Your keyword “bank” should grow as your knowledge base expands.


Boolean searching: combining terms for efficient searches:

Truncation, stop words, and phrase searching

You may use the following symbols in the online catalogue and most databases to narrow your searches:

  • Phrase searching: Put parentheses around the exact phrase you wish to find. For example:

"Department of Education"    "Common Core"

  • Truncation:Use * after a root word to search for variants of that word.  For example:
          Child* for child, children    Employ* for employment, employee, employer
  • Use a ? to allow for one letter difference in spelling:
          Wom?n for woman, women, womyn
  • Stop words: Most databases ignore certain words that carry little meaning, like the, is, an, it, and so on. If they're essential to your search phrase, be sure to put the words in quotation marks.