Google and Google Scholar search tips
|Use double quotes to find exactly what you enter. This can be used for phrases, to find two or more terms in that order.||"staff ratio"|
|You can use OR to find alternative terms (must be in capitals) but performance may be unpredictable. Google Scholar has a character limit (256) - you can use a vertical bar instead of OR to save space||
"staff ratio" OR "staff to patient ratio"
Alternative option for Google Scholar
|You can use AND to connect different concepts (must be in capitals) but performance may be unpredictable||("staff ratio" OR "staff to patient ratio") AND "aged care"|
|Group sets of synonyms together. You can use parentheses but Google and Google Scholar will ignore them||("staff ratio" OR "staff to patient ratio") AND ("aged care" OR "nursing homes")|
|Use AROUND when you are interested in the relationship between two query terms - as a 'proximity' operator. The AROUND(n) operator must be in capitals.||staff AROUND(2) ratio finds staffing ratio, staff-to-resident ratio and more|
|Use the wildcard * as a placeholder for any unknown or wildcard terms. Replaces 1-4 words or numbers.||
staff * ratio
staffing * levels
Google and other search engines personalise results depending on your search history, preferences, and websites visited. This is the default setting in Google.
According to the documentation Google released at the time of launch, Verbatim mode disables personalised search and uses your exact words, but will not auto correct spelling or find synonyms. It does not disable localised search which recognises your physical location. Based on this release information, you could use use Verbatim mode when you do not want your search to be invisibly altered. Now, Google help simply states 'Verbatim: Search for exact words or phrases'.
Run your search then select: Search tools > All results > Verbatim
Is Google Scholar grey? Google Scholar refers to grey literature in the broad sense of information found outside the recognised databases. It primarily searches academic papers so results are not necessarily grey literature. Results can include:
Works are from academic publishers, professional societies and university repositories, as well as scholarly articles available anywhere across the web. Many government documents are indexed from the publisher site not the government site.
In Google Scholar, you may export references one by one by selecting and choosing your reference management software (e.g. EndNote).
However, if you wish to export multiple references, there is a more efficient way:
Search engines such as Google only search a small percentage of the web. Further information is hidden in the 'deep' ('invisible') web and not discoverable by search engine web crawlers. This includes password-protected sites and those not configured for inclusion by Google.
'Federated' (multi-site) search tools are designed to search multiple sources of information simultaneously in real-time, locating material regular search engines don't include. However it may be best to search sources individually to take full advantage of search functionality.
When searching for grey literature, find more by exploring specialised databases, catalogues, directories, portals and 'federated' search tools. A few of these are listed below:
'If websites, search engines, or other online sources were browsed or searched, specify the name and URL (uniform resource locator) of each source.' - PRISMA 2020 Explanation and Elaboration, p. 5
'Present the full search strategies for all databases, registers, and websites, including any filters and limits used... Provide...the sequence of terms that were used to search simpler interfaces, such as search engines or websites.' - PRISMA 2020 Explanation and Elaboration, p. 7
Advice from the Cochrane Handbook:
'It is particularly important to save locally or file print copies of any information found on the internet, such as information about ongoing and/or unpublished trials, as this information may no longer be accessible at the time the review is written. Local copies should be stored in a structured way to allow retrieval when needed...document the search process to ensure that the methods used can be transparently reported..." -- 4.5 Documenting and reporting the search process