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Search Engines for Academic Use: Google Search Tips

Get the best out of Google Scholar and its range of features.

Building Your Search

All search terms count so Google will find pages containing all your search terms. In effect there is an implicit AND between your terms:


Similar words match: Google will return pages that match close variants of your search terms. So in the above query: child bicycle helmet, Google will also find children, bicycles, bicyclists, helmets.


Use OR to combine words/phrases with similar meaning. This will ensure that Google will find any of your search terms in pages retrieved:


Planning and executing your search. Take time to identify the key subjects/concepts in your research question and to think of synonyms. Examples:

The impact of holiday homes in rural areas in Ireland will look like the following in Google:

impact "holiday homes" OR "second homes" rural OR countryside ireland

NB: OR must be in upper case.


Add "type" of information being sought to your search words. Examples:

"central bank of ireland" "annual report"

“gender studies” bibliographies

"public health" ireland OR irish database OR dataset

"easter rising" digital

Cloud saas infographic

Spss libguide

zoology portal OR directory OR "search engine“

Searching Within Specific Site/s

Search within a specific website by including site: before the URL of that website. Examples:

"ireland in a warmer world" (NB: no spaces between site: and regulation 1008

Search within a type of website by including a URL suffix. Examples:

"wave energy" OR "tidal energy" OR "marine energy" OR site:edu (This searches websites in universities and colleges in the UK and US. NB: site: must be repeated in an OR search).

"wave energy" OR "tidal energy" OR "marine energy" research site:se (This searches websites in Sweden where the URL has the se suffix).

Search within a defined group of websites by specifying which websites are included. Example: OR OR OR OR “panama papers” “tax fraud” OR “money laundering”

Phrase Search

Use quotation marks around phrases to ensure Google searches for the phrase and not single words. This is also useful when searching for the title of a paper, report, etc.


"climate change"

"freedom of information" "state bodies"

"fuel poverty older people and cold weather an all island analysis" 

NB: for this last example exclude punctuation

Hyphenated Words

Include a hyphen to search for terms that could be one, two or hyphenated words. Example:

straw-bale will pick up straw-bale, strawbale or straw bale

Word Gaps

Use the asterisk symbol (*) between words where it is unknown what / if additional words might be present. This is useful to use with author names. Example:

"george * bush"  will pick up George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, George Walker Bush

Searching For Specific Document Types

Search for specific document types by adding one of the following to your terms:

filetype:pdf (PDF publications)

filetype:ppt OR filetype:pptx (Powerpoint presentations)

filetype:xls (Excel files)

NB: not all publications are PDF and not all statistics are presented in an Excel file.


“time management” filetype:pdf

marketing filetype:ppt OR filetype:pptx OR site:edu "leaving certificate" filetype:xls