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FYI 101/2: Traylor

Library resources for Garrett Traylor's First Year Inquiry students!

Research on the Web

Library resources are great, but eventually you will graduate and may not have access to the expensive resources made available to you as a student in the academic setting.  Knowing how to conduct research using the Internet more generally is a great skill to have.  This guide will show you some tips that can help you get the best from the Internet.

Advanced Google Tricks

Google has become synonymous with web searching. It is famous for its simple search box, but Google also has more sophisticated tools that can help you get more of what you want rather than just what Google thinks you want.  I recommend using the Google Advanced Search options/interface, but many of these advanced features can be used by including special text operators in the regular search box.

" " Search keywords together as a complete phrase (e.g. "food truck").
* Use an asterisk as wildcard or a placeholder (e.g. "market * report").
- Use a dash to exclude a particular keyword from your search (no space between the - and keyword) (e.g. "moon landing" -hoax

Search a number range (no spaces between the .. and your numbers) (e.g. "2000..2010" for a range, "..2000" for dates or numbers less than / before 2000, or "2000.." for dates or numbers greater than / after 2000).

OR Search one or another keyword (this will get you more results) (e.g. Country OR Western).
site: Limit your search to a specific site (no space after :) (e.g. "food trucks" | or (for government sites only)).
filetype: Limit your search to files with specific extensions, such as PDFs, PPT, etc. (e.g. "food trucks" filetype:pdf).  Here is a list of file types indexed by Google.
inurl: The term appears in the URL of all results.
intitle: The term appears in the title of the webpage search results.
AROUND(#) Search terms that appear within a certain # words from each other (e.g. defibrillator AROUND(5) law)


  • Google's search algorithm constantly changes: search features are dropped and added without warning.
  • Google search utilizes AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning.
  • Google search functionality and results will differ depending on:
    • the browser you are using
    • whether you are logged into your Google account
  • Word order matters.
  • Filter: run a broad search and use filtering options / "Tools" in the menus or headers to narrow down.  One of the most useful of these filters is the timeline filter which will get you results only from the specified length of time:
  • Harvest keywords: look for relevant keywords in your results to use for further searching.
  • Google hints: use auto-suggested searches.
  • Use relevant search terms for what you need to find:
    • statistics, market research reports, market size, market share, market trends, standard
  • Use Verbatim Search if you search for the exact phrase and don't want Google to make suggestions (run a search > Tools > change "All Results" to "Verbatim" -- see image above) -- This is great when using an uncommon spelling that Google might otherwise try to auto-correct.
  • For your eyes only: be aware that Google personalizes your searches based on your search history, so consider customizing your account settings to search and browse privately.

Many of these tips were adapted from Natasha Arguello's University of Texas Advanced Google guide and also from my own instructional materials from Illinois College under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Other Google Tools

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a freely accessible web search engine that indexes the full text or metadata of a wide range of academic journals, books, conference proceedings, case law, patents, content from university repositories, and more.  This can be an excellent resource, and if you are searching from on-campus will include links to materials held by the Augustana Tredway Library's collections, though Google Scholar has also been criticized for not vetting journals and for including predatory journals in its index.  To access Advanced Google Scholar Search, click on the menu in the top left corner when conducting a search, though these features are not very robust.  Also note that many libraries whose collections Google scanned for Google Books and Google Scholar retained copies of the scans and have used them to create the HathiTrust Digital Library.  HathiTrust can be an excellent alternative to Google Scholar.

Google Images

Google Images can be used to find images and narrow down by image size, colors, type, region, site or domain, file type, and usage rights.  One of the most useful features is the "reverse image search" capability which allows you to enter an image into the search box rather than a traditional text-based keyword.

Google Trends

Google Trends is a tool that analyzes the popularity of top search queries in Google Search across various regions and languages.  The website uses graphs to compare the search volume of different queries over time.  This can be an incredibly interesting and useful tool, and you can find out more information about where the data comes from and tips on how to use the tool from the Google Trends Help Center.

Google Public Data Explorer

Google Public Data Explorer provides public data and forecasts from a range of international organizations and academic institutions including the World Bank, OECD, Eurostat and the University of Denver.  The data can be displayed as line graphs, bar graphs, cross sectional plots, or on maps.  You can find more information about the Google Public Data Explorer from their Public Data Help Center.

Google Alternatives

According to Statista, in December 2021, Google accounted for 86.19% of the global Internet search market share, followed by Bing at 7.2%, and Yahoo at 2.77% (which is powered by Bing).  Though Google can be a great resource, privacy concerns around data collection may prompt interest in some alternatives.

Other Web Resources