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LibrarySkills@UCL: Searching for information

A guide to search techniques and developing a search strategy for assignments, literature reviews and research.

Search engines

Searching the internet is not recommended as a method of finding authoritative scholarly sources for your work. However, there are circumstances where you might need to use a general search engine such as Google, for example if you are looking for grey literature or some very basic background information about a topic.

It is crucial that you carefully evaluate the information you find on the web, before deciding whether to use it to inform your work. See our guide to Evaluating information.

Search engines operate very differently to bibliographic databases and are not designed for structured searching. However there are some simple tools you can use if needed, to carry out a search more effectively. See Google's page about refining web searches using Google and how to do an advanced search.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar can be a useful source to supplement your search, although it is not entirely clear which sources are included, or how results are ranked.

Google Scholar