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Use Google for My Research

Search Tips

A few simple modifications to your search phrase can return much more useful results.

engineering archive or listserv
...finds information about engineering archives or engineering listservs

"principles of vaccination"
...finds the exact phrase principles of vaccination

active learning pedagogy|teaching|instruction
...finds information about active learning, whether information accesses using the word pedagogy or teaching or instruction

seminole +indian
...finds information about the Seminoles that includes the word indian, which would return substantially different results than searching, for example, seminole +football

postmodernism -foucault -derrida
...finds pages concerning Postmodernism with no mention of Foucault or Derrida

When Should I Use Google for Research?

Use Google for research...

  • If you are looking for information on new or cutting-edge topics
    • Scholarship takes time, and some preliminary research is published online
    • Expert amateurs or independent scholars occasionally post useful material
    • Emerging or transdisciplinary topics sometimes form partially or simultaneously in multiple fields
  • If you want informal or formal documentation or reports from companies, government agencies, or educational institutions
    • This material is typically not indexed by scholarly databases, though many resources exist for finding government information
    • Materials may be in standard/HTML format, or they may be contained in PDF, PowerPoint, MS Word, Open Office, or other file types.
  • If you are looking for scholarship from online, open-access journals
    • Many are in the VCU Libraries Search or Project Muse, but some are too new, too specialized, or not generally relevant at VCU
    • Google indexes by machine, so they can add new content more quickly than humans can for inclusion in traditional scholarly research databases.

Google is not always the best tool for finding peer-reviewed scholarship or essays resting on quality sources, nor is it necessarily the best place to start your research. Google can, however, find relevant websites for new or cutting-edge topics that scholars have not yet addressed, official documentation from government agencies or institutions, or articles from online, open-access journals.