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by JB Burke

Q. I do research on historical topics and write articles for a small journal. Is there a better way to do research than just Google?

A. Google is the acknowledged leader in internet search engines, and has indexed the largest number of web sites. There are many web sites that give very sound advice in how best to search with Google. One is Google's own support site. At the bottom of that page you will find a list of further search tip links. These go into much detail concerning how to best optimize your search.

There are two other strategies I'd like to point out that are very easy and intuitive to implement. First, after you do your initial search, and are presented with something like "About 29,100,000 results (0.50 seconds)", look to the line just above this results line. On the far right you will see "Search tools". Click that and you will be presented with a new line. It might say: "Any time … All results … Prescott, AZ" (varies with the type of search). Click the little down pointing arrow next to "Any time" and you will see a list of alternatives, such as "Past hour", "Past 24 hours", all the way up to "Past year" and "Custom range". What you choose here will determine how old or new you your results will be. This is important when doing searches where the freshness of the data is important.

The second suggestion is to search the Deep Web. The Deep Web contains perhaps hundreds of times more information than the Surface Web that Google searches. It's made up of university libraries, museum collections, government databases (for example The Library of Congress), etc. Don't confuse this with the Dark Web, where criminals hang out – the Deep Web is a great research resource. A new search engine is DeeperWeb by Google and install the Firefox extension or just go to and start your research with new powerful tools. Also do a Google search for "deep web search engines" to really expand your capabilities.

Published: Courier 5/9/15 - Page 12A