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Google Search Tips

About This Guide

Welcome to the Campbell Library's Google Searching Guide! 

Google contains and abundance of information and can be an excellent research tool (especially when looking for recent information, government sources, and other materials that often aren't indexed in library databases). At the same time, Google's abundance also means you often have to evaluate and sort through information more carefully.

This guide will help you make the most of your Google searches, as you remain aware of its strengths and weaknesses. 

Pros and Cons of Using Google for Research

We discuss here both the general Google Search and Google Scholar.

Pros of Google: 

  • It is Google!  Free and easy use.
  • Current information is quickly indexed and findable.
  • Advanced Search features help with refining results.

Pros of Google Scholar:

  • Includes peer reviewed content. (Be aware that the full text of some items will not be available. If you hit a paywall, don't pay! The library can usually get items through interlibrary loan.)
  • Includes related citations and references.
  • Indexes content from a wide variety of subject areas.

Cons of Google: 

  • Number of search results can be overwhelming.
  • Greater need to closely evaluate search results and source credibility. It's more likely that some sources will be of questionable quality. 
  • Google profits from advertising, so it often places ads at the top of search results and sometimes prioritizes its sponsors' results over others. Consider the motivations and purposes of web sources. 

Cons of Google Scholar: 

  • Don't know exactly is indexed and searched.
  • Cannot view a comprehensive list of indexed sources.
  • Not everything is freely accessible in full-text. (Again, if you hit a paywall, don't pay! The library can usually get items through interlibrary loan.)
  • Includes content from all subject areas, but tends to favor science and technology.
  • When limiting by date, results are far less comprehensive.
  • Not as many limiting options as other database like PubMed or ERIC.