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How To: Find Sources

Use the tabs below to find information and links on finding different types of sources.

Evaluating Websites Resources


While Wikipedia is not a scholarly source, nor is it appropriate to use as a cited reference, their articles are generally updated and reviewed by experts, making them a good starting point, especially for identifying key words, individuals, and concepts that you can use to help you find the information that you can use in your research. Check the references section for scholarly or peer-reviewed articles, reference materials, and other sources.

Do NOT rely on what you find on Wikipedia; always verify the information using a scholarly source that you can appropriately reference in your research. 
To find out more about Wikipedia and how it can be appropriately used, please see the Wikipedia guide from the University of Pittsburgh Library.

Web Searches

While all search engines and databases have their own search abilities and guidelines, we have compiled some of the more common ways to customize your search results on the web.

Site Specification

To return results from a specific type of site, you can tell the search engine what kind of domain suffix you are interested in finding information through, such as .gov (government sites), .edu (educational sites), or .com (commercial sites), etc. To do this, type site:gov, site:edu, or site:com after your search terms. 

Boolean Operators

Exact Words or Phrases

Put exact words and/or phrases you want in quotes. 
Example: Searching for "biological anthropology" will return results that specifically use that phrase, whereas searching for biological anthropology will return results containing either or both of those terms and those containing the exact phrase.

Using OR, AND, NOT and/or parentheses to combine or exclude keywords in your search

Use OR if there is more than one term that may be applicable and you want results for either of them
Example: "biological anthropology" OR "physical anthropology" will return results that contain either of these phrases

Use AND to combine terms that you want to search; the results will include items with both terms
Example: "biological anthropology" AND forensics will return results that contain both biological anthropology and forensics; it will exclude any that do not mention both

NOT (or -)
Using NOT or a minus sign before the word(s) you don't want will tell the search function to look for results with the first word but will exclude any that contain the second one.
Example: "biological anthropology" NOT forensics will return results for biological anthropology and will exclude any that mention forensics

Parentheses ()
Use parentheses to separate search term strings; similarly to how math problems are done, everything within the parentheses is separated from the rest of the terms.
Example: ("biological anthropology" OR "physical anthropology") AND forensics will search for biological anthropology and forensics as well as physical anthropology and forensics

Number or Date Ranges

Ranges (..)
Number and date ranges can also be specified by putting two periods (..) between the numbers (including their unit of measure, if relevant), such as $150.00..$300.00 to return results showing those dollar ranges or 2001..2021 for results spanning those years.

Wildcard/Truncation Symbol

If you are looking for information about a keyword that may have alternate or multiple suffixes (for example: act, active, activate, activation), you can search for all of the options by adding what is called a wildcard symbol (? or *). If you search for act? or act*, it will return results for act, active, activate, activation, etc. If one option doesn't work, try the other; Google recognizes both, but not all search engines do. This technique can definitely be helpful, but be aware it may produce too many results.