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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Basic Search Tools for Information Sciences Research: Google and other search tools

Introduces major reference tools and information search strategies for the information sciences.

Tips for keyword searching

Google and other search engines offer only limited ways to target and refine your search. The following tricks work in Google; similar functionality is available in many web search tools.

-- Start with the most specific terms.

Search using words associated with your topic that are unique, or proper names, abbreviations or acronyms, e.g., Dublin Core rather than metadata

Enclose phrases in quotation marks, e.g. "Dewey decimal"

-- Search for websites of associations and other groups that deal with your topic.

Put organizational names in quotation marks if you know the precise name, e.g. "Association for Library Collections and Technical Services"

-- Combine words to make your search more specfic (Boolean logic).

Use AND to be sure that all the terms you enter are present in the retrieved pages, e.g. metadata AND video AND preservation

Use OR to search for synonyms and closely related terms, e.g. taxonomy OR classification.

Use OR to search for variant spellings, e.g. cataloging OR cataloguing

Use more than one strategy in a single search, but do it carefully! Put each strategy in parentheses, e.g., (taxonomy OR classification) AND (books OR documents)

-- Exclude unwanted pages. This is useful when a keyword has several meanings or contexts.

Put a minus sign directly in front of a word you want to exclude, e.g., catalog -mail

-- Look for further tips in the help pages of the resource.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar identifies scholarly literature, primarily journal articles.

The full texts of some articles are available freely. Other articles can be accessed for a fee. But many are not available unless you have an online subscription to the journal. Often, these same articles ARE available online through the University Library's subscriptions.

To search for articles and journals at UI search the Online Journals and Databases:

Google Scholar works with the UI's Discover service to display links to full text resources licensed by the University Library. To set this up from the main Google Scholar page

  • click on Scholar Preferences
  • search for Urbana in the Library Links section
  • check University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Discover UIUC Full Text
  • click Save Preferences

Learn more about Google Scholar in another LibGuide:


The basic Google search engine is a powerful tool for searching the open web -- and also a frustrating one! If you find good articles using LISS or INSPEC, you may be able to avoid a general web search. However, you may want to use Google, or other web search engines or web directories, just to be sure you don't miss a pertinent source outside the scholarly/professional literature.

Here are some guides that can help you improve your Google searching skills:

Or go to the source for help:

Search Google Now:

Google Web Search

Subject Guide

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