By Wes Edens, IBIC Electronic Resources Librarian
Google has become an indispensable part of our lives, but few people know how to leverage it for optimal results. In this article, we’ll take a look at three ways to tweak Google to save time and improve the quality of information. You’ll be amazed at the difference advanced Google searching can make.
Link Google Scholar to IBIC’s Resources. Google Scholar (scholar.google.com), according to Google, “search(es) across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites.” In short, it’s an academic literature search engine, and a very good one. A handy feature is the ability to set a “Library Link” for the IBIC. You can do this by clicking on “Scholar Preferences” on the main Scholar search page, right next to the Search button. On the Preferences page, look for “Library Links” and type “Thunderbird” to find the selection “Thunderbird School of Global Management – E-resources @ Thunderbird”. Save your preferences, and then when you search Google Scholar, you will get live links directly to articles in our databases—look for the Thunderbird tag beside the citation. You will be required to log in to the My Thunderbird portal before you are taken to the article.
Get only the type of document you want. Have you noticed that when you use Google for research, the most relevant results are often PDF documents? Or perhaps Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files? You can cut through the clutter of websites and go straight to a particular type of file by using the “filetype” command in Google. This is a favorite trick of librarians in the IBIC. Enter your search terms as usual, then add “filetype:” and the extension of the file type you want. For example:
“solar energy Kenya filetype:pdf” will return Adobe PDF documents only. Use “filetype:doc” for Word documents, “filetype:ppt” for PowerPoint, and “filetype:xls” for Excel.
Search only useful domains. Another favorite Google trick of IBIC librarians is limiting results by domain, such as education (.edu) or organizations (.org). Limiting by certain types of sites in this way can eliminate a lot of spam and bring more authoritative sites to the top of the results list. If you would like to try this, just append “site:edu” or “site:gov” to your search, as in “solar energy Kenya site:edu”. Any domain extension will work. You can even specify a particular website. “Solar energy Kenya site:WorldBank.org” will bring back results only from the World Bank website.
You can combine the “filetype:” and “site:” commands in a single search for even more precision.
Have a favorite Google trick of your own? Share it with us on IBIC Facebook page!
Wes holds a Master of Library Science degree from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Arizona State University. He’s been working with Thunderbird students in the IBIC for 13 years.