Sports Medicine

Using Google to find high-quality research

Use efficient search phrases

  • Google and Google Scholar (like most other search engines) allow the use of Boolean search commands AND, OR, and NOT
  • use Boolean commands along with parentheses and quotation marks to construct the most efficient search phrases


inefficient search motor control TBI rehabilitation  
efficient search ((motor AND (control OR skill)) AND ("traumatic brain injury" OR TBI) AND (rehabilitation OR therapy))  
explanation The efficient search will be more effective because it will retrieve articles which use different words for the concepts that are being researched. Where the first search phrase will only retrieve articles with the word rehabilitation, the second search will in grab articles that use "rehabilitation" or "therapy". This effect is multiplied because the efficient search uses this technique of "OR"-ing synonyms together for each concept. The efficient search also uses quotation marks around multi-word phrases, which will tell a search engine that all three words must appear together. Without quotation marks, the search engine might retrieve articles with only single words from the phrase, returning lots of articles about the brain, or injuries in general.  


Use "power" searching on google

  • similar to using Boolean commands, "power" searching gives you the ability to be very specific when you search google.
  • specify that search results contain certain filetypes, search for synonyms of your search terms, or only come from websites with certain kinds of urls, like .edu or .gov


power search example explanation
site search site:gov (children AND "traumatic brain injury") results will all be government resources or websites
inurl "clinical trials" inurl:braininjury "braininjury" must occur in the url of the search results
filetype "traumatic brain injury" filetype:pdf retrieves only specified filetype
synonyms ~guidlines "traumatic brain injury" retrieves results with synonyms to "guidlines"
combination: synonyms and inurl children ~guidlines inurl:"traumatic brain injury"

Retrieves results which contain words that are synonyms to "guidelines", and have the words "traumatic brain injury" in the url

Portions of this table are based on information taken from University of Michigan Library’s Libguide Dentistry: Power Searching