Tip #1 - Exploit the best of the web

The internet is a good source of:

  • company information
  • technical information (such as software documentation and help manuals)
  • images and multimedia
  • government information
  • statistics
  • open access research

While the internet initially contained mostly commercial content, recent years have seen increasing online engagement from both everyday people (facilitated by the ease of adding web content via social media platforms) and from universities via the open access movement. Open access operates on the principle that researchers want to make their findings available to other researchers so that their work is disseminated and cited in further publications. QUT ePrints is an example of an open access research collection. You can search QUT ePrints and other open access research from QUT library.


Tip #2 - Try limiting by domain

If you are looking for particular content, such as government information or Australian information, you might consider limiting by domain. The domain is part of the URL that tells you what type of organisation is responsible for the web page.

Organisation Type

The organisation type can be particularly useful for limiting. The main organisation types include:

Domain Type Example
.com commerical www.sony.com.au Sony Australia
.edu educational www.qut.edu.au Queensland University of Technology
.ac academic www.ox.ac.uk University of Oxford
.gov government www.qld.gov.au Queensland Government
.org organisation www.apa.org American Psychological Association
.net network organisation www.aspe.net American Society for Precision Engineering

You could also limit by the country domain. U.S. domain names often do not include the country domain. Search engines provide many options for improving your search- see the web search guide available from Google.


Tip #3 - Try and use different search engines for different tasks

Though Google still reigns as the dominant search engine, search functionality is continually improving and different search engines are constantly becoming available..

Some specialist search tools that may prove useful are

  • Google Scholar: a subset of the Google database limited to scholarly publications. A good tool for ensuring a comprehensive search of all the literature available, or for an initial search on a topic.
  • Mahalo: a search engine of sites manually selected by a committee of editors. As such, your results will be fewer than in other search engines, but it also means results will have a higher quality and relevance to your search.
  • Creative Commons: a multimedia search tool that specialises in finding media safe for commercial use or for modification or remixing.


Activity: Type .gov.au into the Google search engine and view the domain results. Type 'energy site:gov.au' into the Google search engine and view the results. Then try searching 'energy site:au' and compare the results.