It's not often that you see Google and scholar in the same sentence. You're probably all too familiar with warnings from professors and librarians alike, "Don't use Google. Use the Library databases!"
It's not that we hate Google. Believe me, sometimes we all eat, sleep, and breathe Google. It's not even that scholarly research can't be found on Google. The reason we tend to warn you away is that there's so much other stuff out there --- from eHow and Wikipedia to personal and corporate sites --- that it gets a little crowded. As a result, it can be exceedingly difficult to track down those scholarly sources amid the pages and pages of junk. But it can be done!
While K-State Libraries has the perfect tools for conducting research and locating scholarly sources, we recognize that everyone uses Google. There's no denying it. But let's be smart about it and use Google like a scholar. Try these tips and tricks the next time you take Google for a spin.
You can tell a lot about a website from its domain name. For example, .edu is education, .gov is government, .org is a non-commercial site, .com is commercial, and so on. Generally .edu and .gov websites will contain the most credible information, though sometimes .org may be useful. Here's a simple way to limit your search to one type of domain name using the "site:" search.
- Find statistics about childhood obesity from a U.S. government agency
- Search for site:.gov U.S. childhood obesity statistics
- Results should include websites from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, like this one titled Childhood Obesity Facts
- Find the biography of Ernest Hemingway (NOT from Wikipedia)
- Search for site:.edu "Ernest Hemingway" biography
- Results should include the websites of university libraries and colleges with biographies written by faculty and staff. Check out the Ernest Hemingway collection from the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin
Sometimes it's also helpful to limit your results to documents (doc), reports (pdf), or presentations (ppt) from a university or government site. You can add the "filetype:" search to the "site:" search above for more specific results.
- Find a PDF report on climate change by a government agency
- Search for site:.gov "climate change" filetype:pdf
- Results should include PDF documents/reports/papers from government agencies like the National Weather Service or the Environmental Protection Agency
- Find a PowerPoint presentation on the Revolutionary War so you can brush up on your history before an exam
- Search for site:.edu "revolutionary war" filetype:ppt
- Results should include PowerPoint presentations from university and college websites, mostly likely created by professors or students, such as this PowerPoint on Revolutionary War medicine by a professor at the University of Pittsburgh
These are only a few of the tricks that can help you tame the Google beast. For more tips and tricks, click on the image below to view this Google infographic.
Overwhelmed with all the possibilities for finding information? Contact Ask-A-Librarian for more strategies to search Google like a scholar. Or, give Google a rest and visit our databases or new search tool for immediate access to scholarly research.