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Google Scholar

ScholarGot the basics down and ready to move on? Learn how to narrow results to exactly what you need efficiently and effectively.

Why can't I just use Google or Google Scholar? Google misses content from the "deep web", including databases/articles the Library pays for (not publically accessible). Google Scholar may bring up academic information, but you will likely be restricted from accessing content without paying. Using the Library you can find the same information and access it for FREE

Perfect Your Search

Too few sources....

  • You need to expand your search
  • Look for misspellings or typos in your search
  • Expand a search term by using synonyms (ie. poverty OR hardship OR welfare OR famine OR impoverish)
  • Decrease your number of search terms/concepts to broaden your search (ie. Canada AND poverty AND children --> Canada AND poverty)
  • Try broader or more general search terms (ie. welfare --> poverty)
  • Try truncating search terms to find alternate endings (ie. Canad* = Canadian, Canada, Canadians, etc.)
  • Use the database's thesaurus or index to find the exact subject heading
  • Use the database's 'related articles' feature
  • Try other databases
  • Turn OFF the "available in OC collection" limiter in OCtopus

Too many sources...

  • You need to narrow your search
  • Add additional concepts/search terms to your search 
  • Choose subject headings as your search type
  • Search for significant words in the TITLE of the article
  • Select specific article or resource types
  • Limit your search by language, age group or demographic, geographic area, current years, etc. 

Find a relevant source and the use citations to locate more related sources. Examine the bibliography, reference list and footnotes for sources used by the author. Use OCtopus or the e-journal finder to find your articles.

When searching in the databases for articles the following tips may help you.

* - This is the truncation symbol, it searches for variations of your term. For example: run* will return: run, running, runner, runners

AND - Use the word AND when you want to combine search terms (this will reduce the number of items found). For example: physical fitness AND students will find articles that discuss physical fitness and students.

OR - Use the word OR when you are searching for a topic that may have different names (this will expand the number of items found).For example: physical fitness OR exercise OR physical education will find articles with any of these words.

NOT - Use the word NOT when you want to exclude certain terms from your results. For example: qualitative NOT mixed methods will find articles that talk about qualitative research but exclude any that are mixed methods.

Truncate words to increase your search results

Truncation is used to find variations of a word ending. Truncating a word will usually EXPAND your search

Example: Remove the ending of the word children, replace with * (or ? in library catalogue), child*

Searches for child, children, childish, child's, etc.


Wildcards increase your search results

Wildcards allow you to find variations within a word.

Example: Organi?ation will find organization and organisation (or % in the library catalogue)

NOTE: Different databases use different symbols!  Check the Help area to learn the symbols for that database. 


Proximity decreases your search results

Proximity operators allow you to locate one word within a certain distance of another. 

Example: Canada w3 economy. Searches for results in which the word Canada appears within 3 words of economy

Limiters / Filters

Use the limiters on the sidebar of results pages

Example: Date, language, resource type, etc.

"Quotation Marks"

Phrase searching: Add " " around words to search an exact phrase.

Works in databases and Google!

Field Searching

Search for terms in a specific field, such as title, author, or subject

Example: "Global hunger"[ti]

Subject Headings Construct a search using only subject headings, or a combination of SH and keywords. 
Scan Results Use subject headings, keywords, and phrases found in existing results.
Research the Author Find an interesting author? Search for more articles or look for their web site
Agency or Association? Notice an agency, association or expert mentioned in an article? Follow up.
Reuse References/Citations Find a relevant source? Examine the bibliography, reference list, citations and footnotes for sources used by the author. Use OCtopus or the e-journal finder to find the same articles.

Evaluating Sources

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