Published: 7 April 2020
The way we research, for assignments, exam revision and even our dissertations, has changed over the years. Before the internet, you could spend hours in the library looking for that one reference. Now, thanks to powerful search engines like Google, all the world’s knowledge is at your fingertips. That can be challenging when you don’t know where to start. But luckily Google has hundreds of tricks that make searching their massive database much easier. We’ve put together some of our favourites.
If you’re looking for a specific phrase you can have Google look for it by using quotation marks. For example, if you search MBA Supply Chain Management, you might find results that include just one of these words (e.g. you might get pages about all MBAs, which isn’t specific enough). Instead, try writing it like this “MBA Human Resource Management”, and Google will only search for pages with all of those words in that exact order.
You might be looking for something that can be described in two different ways. For example, Human Resources or HR. If you want Google to search for pages with either of these phrases, write it like this, “Human Resources” OR “HR”. Make sure the ‘OR’ is in capital letters.
Sometimes, Google comes up with more results than you want. You can remove a word or phrase that you know you don’t need by adding a minus sign before the word. For example, try searching ‘Health degree - MSc Pharmacy’. You will get results about health degrees, but none about MSc Pharmacy courses.
Say you know what website you want to look through, but you don’t know the specific page. Google lets you search a site for the word you’re looking for and will bring up all pages in that site that use that word. For example, type ‘site:www.london.sunderland.ac.uk business management’ and Google will find pages about business management on the University of Sunderland in London’s website.
A brilliant resource for academic papers and journals is Google Scholar. On it, you’ll be able to find peer-reviewed, academic articles on any topic. Google Scholar brings up results that have been filtered to only show academic sources. For example, if you searched for Engineering Management in Google, you’d get a huge range of results but might not find academic papers. If you searched for it in Google Scholar however, your results would all be peer-reviewed papers and journals that you can quote from.
Google is a great resource and a fantastic place to start your research. Don’t forget, though, that the University Library is there to help as well. Make sure you visit their website. If you have any other favourite Google tricks you think other students might like, let us know on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #WeAreSunLon.