Searching online

There are many search engines that you can use to find information on the web, some search the whole web, such as Google and Bing while others focus on certain areas or search within specific databases such as a library catalogue.

As different search engines work in different ways it is best to go to their own guidance for detailed information on using them:

  • Guidance on searching with Google
  • Guidance on searching with Bing

General tips

The Bodleian Education Library has produced the following Powerpoint presentation on Using Google for Academic Research . For further guidance on searching online here are some basic Google search tips.

However your search engine of choice works, there are several things to do before starting a search.

  • Try and think of the key ideas or concepts that define the topic you are interested in.
  • Think of different words for the terms you have chosen; for example United Kingdom and Great Britain are often used interchangeably.
  • Consider plurals, abbreviations and variations in spelling or terminology (especially between the US and UK).

It is always worth searching on multiple versions of the words you have chosen to ensure you are more likely to find the most relevant sites. You may want to start with a general search to give yourself an overview and then focus in on the details.

Often searching on the web as a whole produces an unmanageable number of results. To deal with this you may want to restrict your search to trusted sources; suggestions of places to start are listed on the information sources page.

Remember that wherever you find information it is important to read it critically. If you are a short course student there is more information about this on the Assessing information page in the Getting started book which you can access from your course homepage.

Further help

If you found this page useful you may like to explore the information on our other Study help pages.