How to search Google - University of Manitoba

By April Johnson,2014-08-28 23:24
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How to search Google - University of Manitoba

     Neil John Maclean Health Sciences Library 727 McDermot Avenue (Brodie Centre) ? Winnipeg, MB 204-789-3464 ?

     Googling for Good Evidence

     Google is... an Internet search engine. Google is an excellent source for finding grey literature” or the “hard to finds” like government documents, conference proceedings, policies, reports, news etc. Google is also useful for verifying citations. Google is not... searching “real time”. Google does not search all information in the world. Google may point to web- based databases but does not search them well or in some cases at all (e.g. PubMed). How Google works… proximity (how close search terms are to each other and their order) and frequency (how often a page is linked to) influence the ranking of search results. Techniques

     1. Be specific. Use quotation marks. A query with terms in quotes finds pages containing the exact quoted phrase.

     This is especially important when the words by themselves are very common. (e.g. long term care”)

     Instead of the layperson’s term, use the medical term in quotes. When you use a standard medical term, Google will

     often provide special links to help you refine your search. (e.g “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis” OR

     “pseudomembranous colitis”)

     Use technical terms like “differential diagnosis” or “practice guideline” or "protocol" to get to medical sites instead of

     commercial or consumer health sites.

     2. Plus sign ( + ) and minus sign ( - ). Use the plus sign to force the inclusion of stop words (words that Google

     normally ignores). (e.g. type +i diabetes )

     The above search strategy works better any of these: type i diabetes OR “type i diabetes” OR “diabetes type I”

     Use a minus sign (-) to remove a term from your search or to limit in a special way. “sump drain” -plumbing -oil -sewer -city -fuel -“drain plug” -“sump pump” 3. Search for similar words with the humble tilde ( ~ ). Attach a tilde (~) on the left side to look for different forms of a word and related terms. ~midwife ~competence (will find midwifery, midwives, competency, competencies, etc.) ~child (will find child’s, childhood, kids, pediatric, family, etc.) ~elderly (matches old, aged, senior, etc.) To list only synonyms for the original word, combine the ~ operator with the - operator: ~elderly -elderly (provides results that do not use the word “elderly.”) AND, OR in Google ; AND is defaulted in Google: the space implies it ; As long as you write left to right logically, Google recognizes OR functions without using parenthesis e.g. surgery dental OR oral ; Can express OR as | (pipe) e.g. surgery dental | oral Carol Cooke, 04/2008

Search Filters using | and ~:

Filter Type Sample Query

    ~oncology ~conference | ~meeting | ~congress | ~symposium | ~proceedings Conferences

    ~diabetes ~hospital ~visits | ~stays ~statistic | ~data | ~table Statistics

    “total parenteral nutrition” “bone density” ~guideline | ~statement | ~recommendation | ~path Practice


    “quality of life” ~test | survey | ~instrument | inventory Testing



Truncation, such as in PubMed where a symbol can be used at the end of a word to find all possible endings is not

    available in Google. Instead, Google automatically stems words e.g. long range plans retrieves documents that

    mention plan, planner, planners, planning etc.

    You CAN use an asterisk to replace a whole word in a phrase e.g. “occupational * * health” (retrieves “occupational and environmental health” as a phrase and also “occupational safety and health” as a phrase, among others)

Other Techniques

    There are a variety of functions that Google offers which are quite useful. Some of these include:

    ; allintitle: restricts to results with all the words in title

    e.g. allintitle: rehabilitation assistants united states

    ; intitle: similar to the above, but only the first term after the operator must be in the title of the web page.

    e.g. intitle:“regional health authority” manitoba

    ; allinurl: restricts to results with all words in url

    e.g. allinurl: nlm

    ; inurl: the term following this operator must be found somewhere in a website’s address or URL

    e.g. inurl:hospital ~policy ~privacy (the term “hospital” is in the website address and variations of the terms

    “policy” and “privacy” are both somewhere in the page)

    ; site: restricts the search to a particular domain name

    e.g. dental claim form (limits search to University of Manitoba sites only)

    e.g. AIDS (limits search to Health Canada sites only)

    ; filetype: restricts the search to a particular type of file (can be used for PDF, WORD documents or

    PowerPoint presentations)

    e.g. filetype:pdf PubMed

    ; define: Google shows definitions from pages for that term

    e.g. define: total parenteral nutrition

Other techniques include:

    ; Use a hyphen. Put a hyphen between two or more words to pick up the two words, the words hyphenated,

    or the words together without a space or hyphen. For example, a search for health-care picks up health care,

    health-care, and healthcare.

    ; Quickly check the weather in a particular city: weather Winnipeg

    ; Get the correct time for any location: time Sydney

    ; Convert currency (use ordinary expressions or standard short forms): 100 canadian dollars in us dollars

    ; Use the Google calculator: 56 * 7, 1234 + 98, 887 / 33

    For a complete list of functions and other techniques, see the Google Guide ( or Google’s Help Centre ( The Unofficial Google Advanced Search provides

    quick explanations for most Google functions (

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