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Maximising the search engine that is Google

Google is a great study tool, but the vast amount of information on hand can sometimes be overwhelming. To help you make the most of your time and refine your searches, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help point you in the right direction when it comes to researching with Google. 

Not sure what you are searching for?

Before typing in your search, think about what results you want. If you are a little stuck, start with one key term and wait for the search results to load. You might come across a useful suggestion!

Need a quick answer? 

Make Google take the hard work out of finding the right words by using the two tricks below.

  • Define: Stumbled across a difficult word? Give define: a whirl! An example of how to use this is to type the following into Google: define: Egregious
  • Quick facts: Need a quick run-down of behaviorism? Try typing the following into the search engine: quick facts: behaviorism

Be specific

If you are not getting the results you want, it might be because your search is too broad. Using the modifiers below will help you get specific results. Once you have got the hang of it, these modifiers can also be used together.

  • Quotation marks (“”) Using quotation marks minimises the guesswork for Google and tells it to search for an exact word or set of words. For example, a search like, “google research tips and tricks” will get results with that exact phrase instead of content that contains those words in any order. This helps to locate specific information that might otherwise be buried under unrelated content.
  • Dashes (-) Using hyphens or dashes can help to exclude content. For example, jaguar could mean the car or the animal. So, to remove mentions of the car type into the search: jaguar -car.
  • Site: If you’ve found a great website as a resource you can use Google to search specific information on that site. For example, to find more study tips on Swinburne Online, you would type: "study tips" site:swinburneonline.com.au
  • Asterisk wildcard (*) Using an asterisk leaves a placeholder that will automatically be filled by Google. Searching * based learning will return results on brain-based learning, problem-based learning, even experience-based learning.

While Google is a great starting point to explore new ideas, remember the support network you have around you. There’s no better place to start than your eLA or the student support line, and your fellow students are also a great resource to draw out different ways of tackling a new problem.

Want more study tips? Read more here or share your favourite ones with us over on Facebook.