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Evaluating Google searches

by timapupu last modified Jun 19, 2018 02:03 PM

Google differs in many ways from the search services purchased by libraries.

The material of library services is always selected through certain criteria. Google is a search engine that uses a search robot to find material from links on the Internet. The search robot cannot access many library databases or databases behind a paywall.

Therefore, Google helps only by chance for example if you wish to target your search to a certain type of publications.

How to evaluate your
Google search

  • The central questions of evaluation are: who, when, to whom, where and why? The following list will help you in evaluation:

    • What information does the author give about himself/herself?
    • Has the author published other material on the subject?
    • What is the background organization and its approach to the subject?
    • Who has financed or sponsored the research or publication?
    • How up-to-date the publication’s sources are in comparison to the time of publication?
    • To whom is the material directed to? Does it have a target audience?
    • Is the used source material specified?
    • Why has the material been made – what is the purpose and scientific target for publishing the material?
    • Is the material formulated meticulously and is its terminology common to the field?
    • How does the material relate to other writings in the field and your knowledge of the topic?

Google Search Function


The search algorithm of Google search is developed and changed constantly. In addition, the search algorithm is a trade secret. This is good to remember when you assess the results of a Google search.

Deep Web / Surface Web:

The information in the Internet is divided into two different layers:

  • Deep Web (or invisible web) – around 80% of the whole Internet,
  • Surface Web (or visible web) – around 20% of the whole Internet.

The crawlers of Google and other search engines are able to find material only on the surface web and most of the information on the web is out of their reach. Google cannot access a lot of the materials found in databases. Therefore, it is not a good idea to use Google when searching information for theses and essays. With Google you can find information on individual publications but not how to find the publication if there is no link to it. Google search may sometimes pick up pirated copies of articles.

Google Is Practical for

  • Searching everyday information.
  • Finding basic information on individual companies, research institutes, authorities and other communities.
  • Following topical discussions from blogs and wiki sites accessible to Google, also when related to scientific research.

Basics of a Google Search


  • Google does not use index terms, so you need to find out synonyms and broader and narrower terms yourself.
  • You cannot use search word wildcards but Google finds different forms of search words even if you write them in the basic form.
  • The function of Google’s Boolean operators is unclear. If you search with two words, the search is often implemented as an “AND” search. However, from the search results you will notice that only another of the search words is included.
  • In Google you can get exact matches by writing a full sentence or a title of a newspaper article in the search field.
  • Google remembers your previous searches and recognizes your location and your web browser and its language. Therefore, Google gives different search results to different users and different computers.
  • Because the search algorithm is a trade secret, the results list may be surprising – especially for the sites on the top of the list. Be also sure to make a difference between advertisements and actual search results!
  • You can better control your search with keyword matching options. To find the search form, make the following Google search: advanced search google.
  • Get familiar with the Google search instructions. To find the instructions, make the following Google search: search instructions google