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About Google

Google is a good tool when you are performing basic and preliminary searches to get a general or introductory idea of your topic.

You can also limit your search to academic or scholarly sources by using Google Scholar.

Google Scholar Search

Google Scholar

How to Set up Library Links in Google Scholar

With Library Links, you can access research licensed by TRU libraries in Google Scholar. Library Links will automatically be active for computers on campus, but you can follow a few simple steps to set it up on your home computer as well.

1. Go to the Google Scholar homepage:

2. If you have a Google account, sign in. This will activate Library Links on every computer on which you sign in to your account.


3. Open up the menu.

4. Click on Settings

5. In the left menu, click on Library Links.


6. Using the Search bar, search for TRU or Thompson Rivers University.


7. Make sure that the box next to "Thompson Rivers University - Find it @ TRU" is checked.


8. Click Save.

Google Scholar compared to TRU's discovery service

How does Discover compare to Google Scholar?

The TRU library provides an alternative to Google Scholar using the Ebsco Discovery Service, or Discover. Discover is an effective way of finding full text resources available through TRU Library. Scholar is particularly useful for finding unpublished academic articles or open access resources hosted on academic web servers.

Discover and Google Scholar are search engines that let you quickly search across countless numbers of scholarly information sites and publications; however, each search different selections of scholarly content.  While you will find some overlap, some content in Discover is not available in Google Scholar, and visa-versa.  The two search engines perform relevance ranking in very different ways.

Features unique to Discover

  • Results are from TRU Library collection - Discover search results are content to which TRU Library subscribes, purchases or licenses and is available to staff and students.
  • Search features - you can more efficiently search across TRU Library content using the "Refine your search" and "Content Type" limiters located on the left side of Discover results page
  • Search extenders - you can more efficiently search across other TRU Library content using the  "Extend Search" option.  This feature allows you to search other data sources such as CBCA, Government of Canada, CANLII, Youtube and even Google Scholar.  
  • Full-text - you can get to an article right away using "Items with full text online" only or "Limit to articles from scholarly publications, including peer review" limiter
  • Advanced result list options - Discover has some impressive tools to handle your search results.  You can email yourself full text, citations preformatted in your preferred citation style and permanent links to documents.  Discover can also be configured to save search strings and automatically re-run searches for you.

Features unique to Google Scholar

  • "Cited by"  - Google Scholar will display a list of articles and documents that have cited the document originally retrieved in the search.
  • "Related articles"  - Google Scholar will display an option to run another search to find similars results to the document originally retrieved in the search.
  • Google Books content - Google Scholar includes this content in its search results

Basic Search

Basic Search

Most of the search techniques that you can use in Discover and the library databases you can also use in Google.

Here are some useful techniques to help you become a better Google user.

Use Synonyms combined with “OR”

There are many ways to state your search term or topic. If you are searching for “female” consider using “girl” or “woman” as well.

Combine the synonyms you have listed with "OR." The word  “OR” must be in capitals otherwise Google will ignore it.

Example: global warming OR climate change

Quotation Marks

Use quotation marks around phrases to be sure Google searches for the phrase and not the single words. This is useful when you are searching for proper names.

Example: “Jack Layton”

Search Sites

If you want to search within a specific website you can so it by entering your search term followed by site:sitedomain.

Example: You are interested in “leadership” within the federal government of Canada agencies. Entering leadership will return results about leadership from Government of Canada websites. 

  • this searches the government of Canada websites
  • searches only BC government sites
  • site:org searches non-profit organization sites
  • site:ca searches websites with the domain .ca for Canada
  • searches websites from most universities and colleges in the United States

Exclude Terms

Use the minus sign "-" to exclude terms

Example: jockey -underwear will return results about horse jockeys, and exclude anything about the brand of underwear.

Search Website Titles

You can make a search more precise by limiting your search words to the title of the page e.g. allintitle:climate change


Search for specific document types:

You can search for specific document types by adding the command filetype: to the end of your search. This allows you to search for pdfs, PowerPoint presentations, Excel files and others e.g. filetype:pdf, filetype:ppt, filetype:xls

A few tools . . .

Find a particular site or search within a range of sites.

If you are looking for information from a particular site use the "site:" operator to limit your searches. For example:

  • If you are looking for leadership information on the Thompson Rivers University Web site, try this search: leadership
  • If you are looking for items about cycling in the Georgia Straight Newspaper, Vancouver, try this search: cycling

Use Google spell checker.

Try this quick way to see if you got the spelling correct. Just enter the word in the search box and click search. If it's an ooops, Google will give you a correct spelling.

Want to know the time in Japan? Norway? Iceland? Enter "time" in the Google search box followed by the name of the city or country. For example: try time Incheon

Multiplication? Subtraction? Fraction division? Use Google calculator. Try entering a calculation like 227 * (345/4 + 23) or 4*3+(sqrt 20)^44=. Too much? Check out Google's calculator information sheet where you will find the rules for trig functions, algorithm base 10, circumference to the diameter of a circle, physical constants and much more.

Find flight arrival and departure times. For example: AC 221

Find currency conversions. For example: 100 EUR in dollars

Look up a movie.  Type - movies True Grit - into the search box.

Change inches to centimetres? Kilometres to miles? Quickly convert between different units of measurement. Type the units of measurement you wish to convert to and from into the search box:  chains to rods

Google Alerts is an updating service you can set to get emails based on the terms of your search. You will need a Google Account.

How will this help you get information? You can:

  • monitor a developing news story (elections, tsunamis, etc.)
  • stay up to date on a sports team
  • keep track of Lady Gaga's events

Google Books

Searching Google Books

How to Search

Book Search works just like web search. Try a search on Google Books or on When Google finds a book with content that contains a match for your search terms, Google will link to it in your search results.

Browse books online If the book is out of copyright, or the publisher has given Google permission, you'll be able to see a preview of the book, and in some cases the entire text. If you are wanting to use a book found on Google Books for your research, be aware that most often, the book preview will only include a small portion of the book. If it's in the public domain, you're free to download a PDF copy. Google has created reference pages for every book so you can quickly find all kinds of relevant information: book reviews, web references, maps and more. See an example.    

Google News

Why use Google News?

You can personalize your Google News page to get a more detailed or a wider perspective of world events. Google News retrieves stories through a computer algorithm evaluating online story frequency.

Google News has a set of newspapers that have been archived. These are papers that have been scanned in so that you can actually do searches across them.  You will see when a paper has been active and when the scans are available.  It is a great way  to get into the topic in your area and start to understand what’s going on historically and what was considered to be important news during a point in time.  

Using news filtering and time filtering you can see the original uses of words or phrases and start to understand how things start to link together and how ideas change over time. 

You can:

  • search historical news articles in major newspapers and magazines, and legal archives
  • see how people and events have been described over time using the timeline feature
  • see content available to all users from some of the world's largest news sources - BBC, Time Magazine, Globe and Mail, Washington Post
  • search top stories worldwide in business, technology, sports, health, entertainment, and much more
  • set up alerts

There are many search strategies and tips to use when searching Google News. See Advanced News Search for help.

Search for Canadian Newspapers

Google News provides lists of all newspapers scanned and available in the Google News Archives.  For a list of newspapers in Google News Archive (with links) look here.

Use Google News Advanced Search to help narrow your results to the region or dates you require.

For older articles, be sure to change the "Return articles added to Google News between" date to something that works for your search, i.e. 1/1/1901).

Google Maps

About Google Maps

Putting together a presentation where a map will enhance your work?

Google Maps enables you to look up and study addresses in many other countries. You can:

  • research public transit options
  • get business information
  • view maps in satellite, terrain, and StreetView

Google Maps has many easy-to-use features that allow you to:

  • refine your search to a specific business and review businesses
  • perform two or more consecutive searches
  • save and send your maps

Here are some examples of how you can use Google maps in your course work:

  • History: take virtual tours of museums
  • Physics: use Google maps to learn about speed, velocity, and displacement
  • Earth Science: try Google Maps Mashups to locate and learn about tsunamis, earthquakes, mudslides, and more

About Google Earth

"Google Earth is an interactive mapping application that allows users to navigate (or "fly") the entire globe, viewing satellite imagery with overlays of roads, buildings, geographic features, and the like. Educators can use it to assess and bolster students' visual literacy. Students can use it to develop a context for spatial and cultural differences globally."

Source: Educause, 7 things You Should Know About Google Earth

Available in three versions:

Check out the Google Earth YouTube Channel for video showing intermediate and advanced features of Google Earth:

  • satelliteworld coverage
  • 3D buildings
  • terrain: mountains, valleys, below the sea
  • map data
  • historical imagery

Google Earth has a broad scope of coverage and dozens of features, for more help click Google Earth Help.

Creating a Google Tour Map

Google Images

Getting Copyright-friendly Images

To prevent plagiarism and copyright infringement, obtain permission for and credit the source of all images, graphs, photos, and other artwork.

Check out the following copyright-friendly sources of visuals:

Classroom Clipart  

  • This collection may be used by teachers and students in print, multimedia, and video productions.  

  • Use images for websites, presentations, newsletters.

LIFE Photo Archive  

  • For personal non-commercial use only.


  • Pics4Learning is a copyright-friendly image library for educators and students.

Teacher Files  

  • Free educational resources for instructors to use in their classrooms: ideas, clipart, activities and lesson plans.



About Online Privacy & Google

Privacy considerations are increasing when using the internet and understanding what that means to you can be challenging and frustrating. Keeping your data and personal information secure is essential.  Privacy is now viewed by European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) as a right, which when breached can harm us by undermining our ability to maintain social relations.  Research shows that a large number of people underestimate risks to their information privacy when online. 


Hugi, Ulriki. Reviewing person's value of priviacy of online social networking. Internet Research 21(4). pp 384-407  DOI 10.1108/10662241111158290

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