Research Paper Basics

Doing Better with Google

Most people don't use the full power of the Google search engine, so their searches return a lot of useless material and don't focus too well.

For example, the student who wants to know what Frederick Douglass did after the Civil War and simply types "Douglass" into the Google search bar gets 533,000,000 results. On the first two pages of results, this returns:

Without much more information, this student can do a general paper typical of a high school sophomore, using those encyclopedia articles. College students need more.

Search advice from Google

Google gives us advice on two levels for sharpening and focusing our searches:

  1. How to search on Google gives the basics. There's more to it than simply typing in one key word and hoping for the best.
  2. Refine web searches shows you how to exclude information that's not interesting and focus on items that will help you (for example, putting quotation marks around "Frederick Douglass" would have excluded those attorneys and that doctor).

Going deeper

Google Scholar is a search engine that's not devoted to quick results and selling things. It's designed for a deeper look, so when I searched for Frederick Douglass Post Civil War, I got heavy-duty material, most of it at least worth a look.

The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author.

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by Ashland University.

Revised 9/6/21 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: