By customizing your search, you can increase the scholarly integrity of your results. All of the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, Live.com, etc.) offer "Advanced Search" features that allow you to refine and narrow your search. Limiting your search can provide higher quality results. Search features vary; some of the following tips may not apply to every search engine.
Click on "Advanced Search" on the home page of your search engine of choice. (This will often be next to the search box but may also be in a corner of the screen or under an Options pull down menu.) Most offer the option to limit your searches in a way similar to the Boolean operators discussed above, as well as many other options such as:
- selecting in which languages documents are written (there may be 40 or more to choose from)
- file formats (PDF, RTF, Excel, Shockwave, etc.)
- time frame in which sites have been updated (i.e. past week, past 3 mos., etc.)
- domain (i.e. only .gov or .edu sites)
The following seem to be unique to Google but can be quite useful there.
•~ (tilde) - locates synonyms of your search term; i.e. "~bipolar" also retrieves depression, manic depression, and borderline personality disorder
•- (hyphen) - include this with any search term that may be hyphenated; i.e. "single-handed" retrieves single-handed, singlehanded, and single handed.
•... (in a number range) - "200…204" retrieves 200, 201, 202, 203, & 204.