Googling literature: google search tips and tricks you didn't know when doing literature research

Google Search is an important part of modern literature research. Rather than using a gross-search and relying on the smarts of google's search algorithm, users can refine the search through parameters.

English: Old book bindings at the Merton College library. Author:Tom Murphy VII Source: Wikimedia 

Additionally Google Search can inter-convert units, define words, plot graphs, show the weather.
Fig 1. Weather Forecast,  Google-Search in 2010

Hands on examples:
Try the following examples. Each line represents an example search on Google Search . Bracketed are additional comments.

123*0.12+(sqrt 1024)3
128 miles to km
128 USD to EUR
100 Euro in Chinese money
half a cup in teaspoons
seconds in a year

Metabolomics –Mass –spectrometry
Metabolomics "R" package
*omics jacobian
(Google now offers limited support for wildcards)
(Google will search for related terms) Hadoop Hadoop –
intitle: metabolite recovery + "arabidopsis thaliana"
searches for results which are in the title of a website
filetype:pdf ~metabolite jacobian 2005..2012
searches only documents with the corresponding file-extension Omics
(Google will refer to the cached version of the site and highlight the passed keywords)

(Google offers locally related search information)

Applied, integrative example Metabolomics NMR Hadoop –spectrometry ~jacobian *omics ~mining 2007..2012


  • 2007..2012 defines the time period to be searched. The dots in-between are known as a splat operator. 
  • the ~ tilde operator signifies an synonymous search. 
  • "" the double-quotes create a verbatim search-term, and ensure that the term is regarded e.g. "R", which would normally fall outside the term-inclusion-criteria.
  • keyword: value allows search parameters to be set
  • + explicitly includes terms whilst - explicitely excludes terms  
  • * wildcards a term 


At the author can be specified as follows.

author:weckwerth covariance jacobian

Several more options are available
Google offers many applications and APIs, a significant one used in this project is the charting-API, which can also be explored interactively  .