So you think you can Google?

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Google – how did we ever get by without it?
Most of the time Google is great – it brings 138,000,000 results in 0.27 seconds! Brilliant!

But, sometimes the answers it brings back aren’t the greatest… not even close.
It can be useful to have a few “tricks up your sleave” when dealing with the world’s biggest search engine – here a few search operators that might help you get what you need.

Search Operator
What it does
The minus symbol
Google doesn’t understand “not” as a search operator. Not even if you write it in caps… or yell it at the screen several times over…  
 
So if you want Google to exclude a word from the searching it’s doing, you need to use the minus symbol before the word you want it to exclude. Don’t leave a space.
 
e.g.  I want to find information on ageing and mental health, but when I use those terms the first few pages of results are from the Department of Health and Ageing, and not relevant. So I want to exclude any results with the word “Department”
 
My search looks like this:
Ageing  “mental health” -department
 
site:
When you know which website you want to get your information from you can get Google to search that site specifically – rather than pulling up results from all over the net. A good one for websites you use often, particularly if they don’t have a search function on the page.
 
Use “site:” with the URL directly following (no space)
 
e.g. I want information on the newly released health budget from the source, but my search just brings back opinion pieces and news articles
 
My search looks like this:
Budget site:health.gov.au
filetype:
Tells Google the file type that you want to search.
 
This one is my new favourite.  It’s great for searching for journal articles or printable materials. Use “filetype:” with the type of file following (no space)
 
e.g. I search Google scholar for articles on a subject, say drug use and young people in Australia, but most of the results are abstracts and I have no access to the journals. I want Google to bring me back PDF results to help increase the chances of getting full text articles in my results.
 
My search looks like this:
“drug use” youth Australia filetype:pdf


Any tips and tricks you’d like to share? Comment below and help your colleagues out!

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