A wide range of academic quality documents and data can only be obtained from the Library databases.
Google searching can be a useful supplement to database research, and the following tips can help you to find freely available academic quality material online. Some examples include:
- academic working papers
- government reports and publications
- open access journals
- official statistical data (eg from the Australian Bureau of Statistics)
- transcripts and recordings of radio and TV broadcasts
- Search Google Scholar to focus specifically on scholarly material such as academic books, working papers, journal articles and conference papers. Monash staff and students can customise Google Scholar to link to full text articles to which the library subscribes.
- For greater flexibility in designing your search, use Google Advanced Search, or Advanced Scholar Search (click the arrow in the Google Scholar search box to activate the Advanced Scholar Search screen).
- Develop and use a search strategy as you would when using a library database
- When searching for information from the Australian government, specify the domain: gov.au. To limit to Australian university sites use edu.au
- Identify organizations that are recognised authorities on your topic, and visit their websites.
- When you find a useful site, check if it provides links to related sites. They will probably provide information of a similar quality.
- Critically evaluate the quality of material found on the internet .(see Links box below).
- Save or print a page that you find useful - it may have changed or disappeared when you next search for it and a printout will include information you need for referencing (URL and date viewed).
- 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 web, so widen your search. Read search engines' online Help to be familiar with their features.(see Links box below).
Example of a Google Advanced search
Topic: Find government information 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 word or phrase box, enter a phrase with quotation marks,
eg “rural towns”, “rural communities”
- the search is limited to Australian government sites, gov.au