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Research Help DIY

Searching Smarter

Know the choices of tools you have to choose from, starting with Google vs. Google Scholar.

Google ScholarGoogle Scholar allows you to search across many (not all) of the articles to which the library subscribes. is a commercial venture. Results are based on popularity rather than on scholarly content and quality.

Each search engine has its own way of searching. For instance, Google uses hundreds of factors when considering which pages to show you, such as:

  • The number of links to the page from other webpages
  • The relevance of your search terms in the content webpage
  • The number of pages in the website

You must evaluate all web resources very carefully to determine if they're acceptable for a research paper. For information on how to evaluate web resources, see Evaluate Sources.

Using Google Scholar

Google Scholar limits your Google search to scholarly material such as journal articles, books published by university presses, technical reports, and more. You will find excellent library and other resources here, but to carry out a complete search, you should also use library subscription databases.


  • Only part of the research process. It does NOT cover everything! 
  • Use your Brown affiliation for full access. Be sure you're logged into the Brown network to take advantage of the full-text links to library holdings.
  • Narrow your search. The results of Google Scholar, as with regular Google, can be overwhelming and not always appropriate to your research needs. Its value will vary depending upon your topic and your search terms.

For more on how to use Google Scholar, have a look at the video below.

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Using Google Advanced Search

Google Advanced features make your web searches more efficient. Advanced keyword searches, ability to limit by domain type (like .edu or .org), language, dates, and usage rights are some of the options.

Advanced Search can be found here or you can use the gear box to find it.

For a tips on using Google Advanced Search, take a look at the video below:

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Test Yourself

Use  the search phrase you created for the Start Researching page to conduct a search using Google's advanced search feature AND in Google Scholar.

Note the number of results you got with each search.

Refine each of your searches to reduce the number of results. You can refine the search using synonyms, quotation marks, or other strategies listed on the previous page.

How many results did you get with the refined search?

Submit your refined search terms.