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Effective web searching for reliable health information

Learn how to search the web effectively for health information.
The web is a great place to find openly available information about health, from authoritative sources such as government departments, universities, and charities. Google is usually the first point of call for finding information on the web, but it often retrieves an overwhelming number of results. This brief video will show you some handy tips and techniques, to help you get the best out of Google.
Let’s start with a basic search for some information on dementia. As you can see, entering just one term into the search box has found over 37 million results. Far too many to look through, and it may be that the most relevant results are not displaying near the top. Let’s try adding another term to focus the search. Google will now only retrieve results which include both these terms. As you can see, this has reduced the number of results, so the more key words you add, the fewer results you get.
To further narrow your search results, you can add double quotation marks around the phrase. This guarantees that Google will retrieve results only where your search terms can be found together as a phrase.
And to focus your results even further, you can look for resources which only contain your search terms in the title.
If your search is consistently retrieving results which are unrelated to your topic, you can try excluding a term by putting a minus sign in front of it.
This search will exclude results about Parkinson’s related dementia.
Here are some other commands you can use to narrow your results. Use this command to only retrieve results from specific types of site, for example, government sites.
Here are some examples of other domains, which are more likely to offer authoritative information.
You can also specify the type of file you are looking for. This could be handy for finding academic presentations.
And if you want to find pages that were published on the web after a certain date, or within a specific time frame, you could enter a date range like this.
When you need to conduct a more thorough or exhaustive search for information on a topic, it’s important to include a wide range of search terms, to make sure that you haven’t accidentally excluded any results. A top tip is to write down a list of as many relevant keywords as you can think of on your topic.
You can then combine these keywords in Google using the term “or”.
You can also combine phrases in this way.
And combine this type of search with the narrowing techniques we saw earlier.
It’s well hidden, but Google does also offer an advanced search, which can help you build a focused search without the need to remember all these commands.
You can find it via Google.
This brief video has introduced you to some of the best techniques for getting the most out of Google. Now give them a try for yourself.
Rebecca Mogg, Education Lead for Cardiff University’s Library Service, gives some handy tips on how to search the web effectively and get the information you need.
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Making Sense of Health Evidence: The Informed Consumer

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