Web search tips

Knowing how to effectively search the web and evaluate websites you find will help you quickly locate relevant information.

In addition to Google, you may find Google Scholar and Google Books helpful.

Evaluating websites

If you want to cite websites in academic work, you will need to be more critical of the content than you might be for casual internet use.

Remembering a short mnemonic can help: BAT (Bias, Authority, and Timeliness):

  • Bias: What is the purpose of the site, who is the intended audience, and what motives does the author have for presenting this information?
  • Authority: Who is responsible for creating or maintaining the site, and from what knowledge or experience does the author speak?
  • Timeliness: How current is the information and when was the site last updated?

Searching the web

Choose your words carefully

Remember that AND isn't necessary because it is implied in Google searches.
  • Separate searches for [environmental policy] and [environmental AND policy] will retrieve the same results
  • [Genetic engineering] and [engineering genetics] will retrieve different results

OR helps you search using multiple words which express a similar concept

OR must be capitalized so Google understands this is a searching word, not a word to be searched.

  • For example, [teenager OR adolescent OR youth]
  • ["climate change" or "global warming"]

Set limits to Google searches

  • intitle: retrieves search words which appear in the website's title field
  • intitle:canad* "climate change"
  • inurl: retrieves search words which appear in the websites's url
  • inurl:shakespeare "elizabethan england"
  • filetype: retrieves specific file types such as HTML, PDFs, MS Word (doc), Excel (xls), PowerPoint (ppt)
  • filetype:pdf "organizational development" leadership

Quotation marks (" ") will limit your search to a specific phase.

  • ["climate change"] will search for exact results. A search for [climate change] will search for results with instances of both the words climate and
  • change, and retrieve such unrelated results as "The political climate has changed since the adoption of free trade."

Asterisks (*) will retrieve words with multiple endings

  • Canad* will retrieve Canada, Canadian, and Canadians
  • feminis* will retrieve feminism, feminisms, feminist, and feminists

(~) helps you search for synonyms and will help locate similar words

  • ~car will retrieve automobile, vehicle

Google Scholar

Google Scholar searches:

  • peer-reviewed articles, books, reports,
  • theses, preprints, abstracts,
  • technical reports, conference papers and more.

If the library has access to an article through a subscription database, you will see a "Get this@UVic" link if you're searching at UVic.

Not on campus? Search from the Google Scholar link on the home page under the Articles Tab (you will need your Netlink ID to get full text). If you don't see a full-text link, look for it the library catalogue - we might have it in print.

It may also return citations to sources even if the source itself is not available online, including references to books. Anyone can use it to search, but full-text content is not always available.

Item not at UVic? Like any other article database, if you can't get full text from Google Scholar, you can request an interlibrary loan to have a copy sent to you.