Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Finding Your Inner Google

When you think of Google, you might not think "academic" or "scholarly." Most people use Google for a variety of reasons, but often, when using Google for research, they retrieve too many results or the results aren't relevant. Knowing how to use Google effectively and efficiently can save you a lot of time, effort and frustration.

Note: We encourage you to begin your research with library materials first. Google is not an alternative to, but a helpful addition to the library's resources.

The library staff recently presented a workshop called "Finding Your Inner Google." Google Scholar and Google Books, among others, were discussed, as well as tips and techniques for using Google effectively. For instance, did you know that Google Scholar is a good source of scholarly journal articles? Not to mention, you often can link directly to library databases to find full text. (Go to Google Scholar, click Scholar Preferences, and search for Virginia Community College System under Library Links to access library resources off campus.) Did you know that Google Books offers many books in full text AND links to citation information? (Limit search results to full view to access full text. Under About this book, click Find this book in a library, then click Cite, which is located in the upper right corner.) Google also has many features that are useful to you in everyday life. For example, use it as a calculator or to track a UPS shipment. (Enter equation or tracking number directly into Google's basic search.)

One of the best suggestions, when using any of the Google sites, is to use the advanced search screen. Advanced search allows you to limit your results easily. For instance, you can specify a particular URL or title without having to use special terms like "inurl:" or "intitle:". Also, remember that you can apply what you learned in ITE to Google just as easily as you do to EBSCO.

If you weren't able to attend the workshops, don't worry. We'll offer more in the coming semesters. In the interim, a Google guide is available in the library. And as always, please let us know if you have any questions.