Image by Jonathan Beard
Sure, you use Google all the time, even for your research. This doesn’t shock your librarian—actually, she uses Google for research, too. Not as an end-all, but as one more tool in the research arsenal, along with databases, the library catalog, and organizational websites.
But are you using Google to its full potential? Probably no one is—there are many features with more continually being developed. Here are a few suggestions of how to use Google to extend your research.
Two Ways to Find Books & Fulltext Articles Faster!
1: LibX Widget
You can save yourself some time and frustration by installing the Columbia Library LibX Widget. This is a browser plug-in for either Firefox or Chrome, which automatically links to CU's library resources from ISBNs, DOIs, and more. For instance, when you’re using Amazon, LibX will tell you if Columbia owns that book. When you find an article in Google that costs money to view, right-click and select "Reload page via Columbia Libraries Off-Campus Proxy" to see if that article is accessible through Columbia. LibX also adds a button to your browser for instant library searching, so you don’t have to remember or navigate to the library website.
2: Full-Text Articles from Google Scholar
You can configure Google Scholar so that it auto-links to full-text articles at Columbia.
- To configure this, go to Google Scholar and click on the gear icon for "Settings."
- In the "Library Links" section, search for Columbia University.
- Click the checkbox for Columbia when it pops up.
- Now hit "Save," and you're done!
- Now when you search, any articles that Columbia has in full-text will have an icon on the right marked “e-Link @ Columbia."
Alternately, you can simply use this link: http://www.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/cul/resolve?clio5119262
Expanding Your Sources with Google Scholar
Found one good article (or book), and can’t find another on that narrow topic? Or did you find the perfect article—but it’s twenty years old and way out of date? You can solve both of these with Google Scholar.
Enter the title (and author last name, if you have it) into Google Search. When the article title comes up in your results list, look near the bottom of the entry. There will blue text that reads "cited by X." Click on “cited by” to see more recent articles/books that cite the original source. Often these will in turn be “cited by” more recent and relevant works, so you can accrue a lot of titles this way.
This can also help judge of the significance and popularity of a work. For instance, if you find a book in the Columbia catalog that seems relevant, you can get a feel for how it’s viewed in its research field by looking up its number of citations in Google Scholar (you can also do this with Scopus or Web of Science). A word of caution, though: some works may be cited often because they’re badly reviewed, or a quality work with few citations may be too new to have been widely read. So it’s best not to use this as your only judge of worth.
Advanced Google Search Tips
To reveal every spot in a Google Maps area for which Google has information, type: *
Intext: words must appear in the website; quotes make the words appear in that order. Similar search strategies include inurl (text must appear in URL) or intitle (text must be in the website’s title).
Ways to use “OR” to expand your search:
“Smith denied” OR “Smith claimed” OR “Smith argued”
“Manuel Isquierdo” lien OR liens
Jessica + Williams|Wiliams|William
Use the minus sign to exclude words.
Use the tilde to find synonyms.
Search for names that may also use a middle initial or additional name with “around.”
Wildcard search (*) plus a phrase search (“”) allows you to find quotes where you’re missing a word.
Search within a specific website with “site.”
Limit your search to a date range.
Limit your search to files of a specific type. Can help you find spreadsheets, reports, etc.