Online Research Advice

(home -> research -> advice and tips)

Here are some articles, resources and links to search engine help pages to help you conduct your online research faster and more effectively.

Effective Use of Search Engines

Finding the News Online

Google Alerts

Historical Research Online

Jump Start Your Online Research

Internet Research Resources for Mystery and Crime

Internet Research Resources for SF writers

Web Resources for Developing Characters

General Search Tips
  1. Use Multiple Keywords to narrow your search.

  2. Be as Specific as Possible without narrowing your search so much that you might miss something.

  3. For some search engines putting a + in front of the keyword (as in +books) means that this word must show up in the results.

  4. Try putting the words or phrase inside quotations to further restrict the results, such as "books about space" or "space books".

  5. When search engines bring up results, notice that underneath an individual result it sometimes says "show more results from this website". This can be very valuable if the website seems like a good resource for your search.

  6. Try following the hand-picked choices some of the search engines have, especially if you are searching for a broad topic.

  7. Many search engines let you exclude words by putting a minus symbol in front of the word, such as -fiction. This can be very useful. For example, if you wanted to search for books, but exclude fiction from your search, your search would be
    books -fiction.

  8. Some search engines will only show results with capital letters when you start your keyword with a capital letter, as in France.

  9. You can use the asterisk as wild card to tell the search engine to include multiple forms of the word, such as book*. This tells the search engine to include the keywords books, bookstore, bookseller, etc. in your search.

  10. Many search engines have assigned functions to certain keywords, such as url and link. To find a list of what words have been assigned particular functions go to the search engine's help section.

  11. For more tips be sure to visit each search engine's designated help pages!

Search Engine Help Pages Help

Bing Help

Google Inside Search

Google Search Help


Additional Resources

You should also read the Evaluating Resources Guide from the Berkeley Library which helps you learn to evaluate a website for research purposes.