A wide range of academic quality documents (especially journal articles) and data (eg detailed company financial data, market research and analysis) can only be obtained from the Library’s databases. Use these databases to search for high quality information that will be the basis of your research.
Google searching can be a useful supplement to database research, and the following tips can help you to find academic quality material that is freely available on the internet.
The range of such information sources available via a Google search include:
- academic working papers
- government reports
- official statistical data (eg from the Australian Bureau of Statistics)
- transcripts and recordings of radio and TV broadcasts
Your lecturer may recommend particular Internet sites or resources relevant to the unit or your research topic.
- Search Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com/) to focus specifically on academic books, working papers and journal articles, as a supplement to searching the Monash journal databases and the Monash Library catalogue. Monash staff and students can further customise the Check for full text links in Google Scholar experience.
- Choose Advanced Search, or Advanced Scholar Search for greater flexibility in designing your search.
- Develop and use a search strategy, as you would when using a library database (details under the Effective Searching tab). Sticking to a systematic search strategy will help you to be focused and time-efficient.
- When searching for information from the Australian government, specify the domain: gov.au will restrict the search to only Australian government sites. To limit to Australian university sites, type: edu.au
- Identify organizations that are recognised authorities on your topic, and visit their internet sites (eg. for economics and finance topics, the Reserve Bank of Australia site includes research, publications, statistics, media releases and transcripts of the Governor’s speeches).
- Google search results are ranked so the more a page is linked to from other sites, the higher it will appear in the results list. Potentially useful sites will most likely appear in the first few pages of a search result list.
- When you have found a useful site, check whether it provides links to related sites, which are likely to provide information of a similar quality to the referring site.
- Critically evaluate the quality of material found on the internet, eg Wikipedia can be a useful reference tool, but because anyone can contribute to it, its content cannot be considered authoritative or reliable for academic purposes. If you want to use information found in Wikipedia, you will need to verify that it is correct by referring to and referencing an academic-quality source. For details on evaluating internet information see Evaluating Web Pages: Techniques to Apply & Questions to Ask UC Berkeley - Teaching Library Internet Workshop, http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/Evaluate.html
- Save or print a page that you find useful – it may have changed or disappeared when you next search for it. A printout will also include the URL and when you viewed the page, which you will need for referencing.
- Try other search engines in addition to Google. The database of each search engine can represent only a part of the total content of the Internet, so using more than one search engine can widen your search. Read the specific search engine’s online Help to be familiar with its particular features. For information on various search engines see: Recommended Search Engines UC Berkeley - Teaching Library Internet Workshops, http://lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/SearchEngines.html
Example Google Advanced search
Topic: Find information from the government on the impact of climate change on rural communities in Victoria.
A possible search strategy is:
victoria and climate change and (rural communities or rural towns)
- except for the exact wording or phrase box, enter a phrase with quotation marks,
eg “rural towns”, “rural communities”
- the search is limited to Australian government sites, gov.au