Google Advanced Search
According to Jane Hart, the author of the Social Learning Handbook, working is “no longer about knowing how to do things, but knowing where to find out how to do things”. Google is where most people go to find information about people, places and ‘how to do things’ (Hart, 2011). There are many other web search services available - for example Bing, Yahoo and Ask Jeeves - and it’s worth trying them out, but there a few tricks and tips that will help you use Google more effectively.
A word of caution though: Google contantly changes the way its search works in order to try to deliver a more personalised service. That is, it will try deliver what it thinks you are looking for, based factors such as your previous search behaviour and your location. What follows are some tips on how to dig deeper using Advanced Search.
To get to Advanced Search, simply start typing a word into the search box on the Google homepage. When some results appear, scroll down to the very bottom of the page and you will see 'Advanced search'. Click on the link. This will take you to a page with a number of fields that you can use to narrow your search. So for the purposes of this exercise, we'll do a search for 'personalised care'.
Find pages with...
- all these words - this is the same as doing a basic search. If you place your search terms into this field, Google will find web pages containing instances of both ‘personalised’ and ‘care’ anywhere on web pages.
- this exact wording or phrase - this will search for an exact word or phrase. Quotation marks denote this e.g. "personalised care".
- any of these words - there is usually more than one word or phrase to describe what you are looking for. Use this field to make Google search for the vrious different words and phrases that decribe what you are looking for, eg 'person-centred care' or 'personalisation' .
- none of these words - narrow your search by excluding pages that contain certain words. In our example you might wish to exlude young people, children and youth, if you didn't want results for this demographic. Note that phrases such as "young people" will need to be placed in quotation marks.
Narrowing the search even further
The next part of Google Advanced search shows you ways to narrow your search results even further.
Then narrow your results by...
- language/region - helpful if you're looking for information in a particular language or from a particular region.
- last update - this can prevent you from accessing very old or outdated material. You may only want to see websites that have been updated over the past month for example.
- site or domain - by placing .gov or .edu or .ac.uk in this field, for example, you will get results from only government related or (United States) educational institutions or (UK) educational institutions. You can also enter full website addresses if you want to search a particular site, eg www.bbc.co.uk.
- terms appearing - this will search for where a term appears in a particular part of a web page e.g. title, text or web address.
- file type - this is particularly useful if you just want to find information in particular file formats e.g. presentations (ppt) or research documents (pdf).
- usage rights - this will find content that you can freely use, share or modify - very useful when creating learning materials or exercises.
The Google Guide: http://www.googleguide.com
Hart J (2011) Social learning handbook: A practical guide to using social media to work and learn smarter, Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies. Further information: http://c4lpt.co.uk/social-learning-handbook/
Karen Blakeman is something of expert on finding information on the web and her blog contains many hints and tips: http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/category/search-engines/
This Work, Google Advanced Search, by IRISS is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 UK: Scotland license.