Skip to Main Content
Research Guides@Tufts

Infectious Disease and Global Health: Getting Started

JumboSearch: Tufts Libraries

Google & Google Scholar Strategies

Use more words

When you search the web, a one or two word search often will find hundreds of thousands of websites. To narrow your search and find more relevant web sites, think about your topic and how people might be writing about it. Then use at least three or four keywords or concepts in your search.

Search for phrases

If you can describe your topic with words that could also be used as a phrase, narrow your search by enclosing your phrase in quotations:

"animal testing alternatives"

"cell culture"

Limit your search

Most search engines have advanced or expert features that allow you to limit your search. Search limits can vary depending on the features of the search engine you are using. A few common ways of limiting include:

  • Type of web site  or domain name (.edu, .com, .org, .gov): If you are finding too many web pages from commercial sources, you can limit to pages that come from an educational institution by typing .edu as a search limit.
  • Date: You can search for pages updated within a certain range of time.
  • Location: Many search engines allow you to find web pages published in a particular country.
  • File type: Reduce search results by limiting to .doc, .pdf, .ppt, etc.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar

Use Google Scholar Settings to link to Tufts University libraries resources, set your bibliographic management tool (Endnote, BibTeX, RefMan) and other customizations.

Use Google search tools for more precise searching.

Where to search... Medline or Google Scholar?

There are many places to begin your database search. And with every database, there are pros and cons to consider. Here is a quick comparison of Google Scholar and Medline.

Google Scholar pros:

  • enormous amounts of data on all kinds of topics
  • find full text articles in the Tufts’ collections quickly
  • focuses search of Google’s content to scholarly resources
  • features: find in a library; import citations into EndNote or another bibliographic management tool.

Google Scholar cons:

  • source of content is unknown
  • must follow a link to see a complete citation (it takes time to click through and back again)
  • lacks sophisticated database search features that assist the research process (limit to publication date or language, precise field searching)

Medline pros:

  • create precise search strategies
  • database search features assist with alternate spelling, word endings and author searches
  • view complete citations and abstracts making it easier to determine if an article is relevant
  • create strategies that are automatically updated monthly and sent to your email
  • features: limit to language, date or publication type; import multiple citations into a bibliographic management tool efficiently; cover-to-cover indexing of major journals

Medline cons:

  • not as easy to use as Google Scholar
  • includes predominately journal literature; doesn't index the "gray" literature, book chapters, or many conference proceedings


Keywords and Search Strategies

Think of keywords as something the author said, in exactly the way they said it. Computers accept what you type in a literal fashion. When you search, consider:

  • how a word is spelled, i.e. American vs. British spelling;
  • single, plural or possessive word endings, ex: Alzheimer / Alzheimers / Alzheimer's;
  • word ending variations, ex: ethic / ethics / ethical / ethicality;
  • word order, ex: bird song / song bird;
  • alternate words, ex: turtle / terrapin.

Boolean Search Operators

Improve your search strategy by using Boolean search operators ("and", "or", "not"). They allow you to be more specific in how you combine search terms.


Use AND to focus search and combine different aspects of your topic.

Example: hematopoiesis and simulation


Use OR to expand your search and find synonyms/related terms.

Example:  refinement or alternative


Use NOT to exclude a word or phrase from your search

Example: dogs not mice

Additional Search Tips

Phrase search  -  Use quotation marks (" ")   to search for a particular phrase.

Example: "tissue culture"

Truncation  -  Use an asterisk (*) or question mark (?) to find variations of a word. Put an asterisk following the root of the word to find all variations of that word, including singular and plural.

Example: monitor* (finds: monitor, monitors, monitored, monitoring, etc.)

Grouping or Nesting Keywords  -  Use parentheses ( ) as a way to group all your search terms together.

Example: ("surgical stripping" or "surgical ligation") and (anesthe? or anasthe? or anaesthe?) and method?