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Lund University


Biology library guide to information searches


Google is not a recommended tool to use for finding scientific information. The search results are highly personalized (depending on for example your search history, computer language and geographic location) which make them highly subjective.

However, if you are interested in a very practical subject (e.g. conservation or policy making), non academic sources such as for examples governmental reports or local inventory reports may be useful to you. These types of sources are often not covered by the academic databases (but some of them you can find through LUBsearch!).

Examples of sources that you may not find in any other search tool (often called "grey literature")
  • Reports from local municipalities and county administrations
  • Some EU and governmental reports
  • Company reports
  • Policies
  • Information from local organizations
  • Manuscripts
  • Clinical guidelines
  • Patent applications
  • Student theses
  • PhD theses

NB! Only use these types of sources if you cannot find the same information in the scientific literature. You should always used academic, peer reviewed literature if possible. If you are using non academic sources, you need to read them carefully and make your own judgment of the quality.

Search technique in Google

Searching within a website

If you would like to search within a specific website, Google is often a more powerful search tool compared to the search tool on the web page. For example, if you would like to search for publications about biodiversity from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) you can type: biodiversity

Or, if you would like to search for reports on biodiversity within the EU website, you can type: biodiversity

Phrase search

To use quotation marks to search for two words together in a specific order works well in Google, for example: "species richness"

Search operators
  • AND: use the plus sign before the word instead +
  • OR: should work but unclear how well, put parentheses around the words (X OR Y OR Z)
  • NOT: use the minus sign before the word instead -

Using an asterisk (*) to search for a word with alternative endings should work in Google but doesn't always work well. You cannot do it in combination with phrase search. You have to experiment a bit to figure out what works.