Online Searching Strategies
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Specific search operators are in parenthesis ( ) which are not to be used when conducting actual searches. Sample searches are in the Italic font.
More search terms equal fewer hits. Construct your searches with at least 2 - 4 keywords to refine your results. Choose descriptive words that have concise definitions. The search below is one I helped a student with two years ago who was looking for Mexico-California immigration information and statistics.
(Example) A one word keyword search, immigration retrieved 249 million web pages; adding a second and third keyword mexico and california, reduced the hits to 23 million web pages; adding a fourth keyword, statistics, cut the results down to 15 million, and adding the limiter site:ca.gov reduced that number to 6,090 web pages retrieved. By spending 30 seconds to 1 minute of "thinking" time to the search we reduced the webpages retrieved by over 248,990,000
(" ") Phrase search / Put keywords in Quotations
When you are searching for an exact phrase, (Example) “Hope is the thing with feathers” or “gene splicing process” put the keywords in quotes to find those exact words in that exact order. Without quotes, the multiple keywords could be separated and found anywhere in the document or page.
(site:) Search within a specific website
You can specify that your search results must come from a given website. For example, the search, (Examples) “Afghanistan war” site:nytimes.com, will return pages about the Afghanistan War but only from the New York Times newspaper or “application deadline” site:Berkeley.edu
(site:gov, site:edu, site:com, etc.) Search within a specific domain
or within a specific country’s web sites (site:uk) United Kingdom
You can limit your search to a specific domain or to a specific country’s websites in order to better focus your search. (Examples) ”disease control” site.gov will search for only government sites, or “soccer scores” site:uk will search only on United Kingdom web pages. To learn more about domains, visit this site, http://www.iana.org/domains/root/ .
(intitle: or inurl:) Search only in the web page or document title or just in the address or URL search box.
To narrow your search results place the keyword(s) directly after these two operators, (Examples) “brain development” intitle:omega3 or “global warming” inurl:sea ice.
(*) Fill in the blanks
The asterisk *, can locate unknown words in keyword phrases or allow for multiple terms to be searched, (Examples) congress to vote on the * bill, will give you stories about an upcoming vote on different bills. Note that the * operator works only on whole words, not parts of words.
(…) Search in a specific date range
For queries that are date sensitive place 3 periods between two dates, (Examples) “concentration camps” 1941…1945
Use Google Scholar for either hard-to-find scholarly articles or more relevant, authoritative articles.