Advanced Online Research

The internet consists of approximately 4-5 billion websites. This guide is intended to help you navigate the visible internet in order to get the best of what it has to offer your research.

Wikipedia for Scholarship

And now, a word from our sponsor, Wikipedia:

“Wikipedia is not a reliable source. So please do not use Wikipedia to make critical decisions.”

“This encyclopedia is especially useful for improving familiarity with a subject and its jargon, and for learning search terms with which to further explore a subject beyond Wikipedia.”

“Helpful external links are also provided to assist you in learning more.”

Searching

Wikipedia’s search engine is quite powerful but a few search tips will help you to refine your results and find what you are after.

  1. Wikipedia Search uses stem matching. As such, using simplified terms will bring you more, varied results.
    • ex. Searching Match will bring results for match, matches, matcher, matched, matching, etc.
    • Searching Matching will not bring any results based on the stem “match” except for the one searched.
  2. When searching terms from other languages, don’t worry. No diacritical marks are necessary.
  3. Single search terms should not have embedded spaces.
    • A search for work space will search for the words work and space.
  4. Use quotations around your search term for exact phrase search.
    • A search for “work space” will search for the term “work space.”
  5. If you are unsure how to spell something, add a tilde after the word. This will perform what is called fuzzy or sounds-like search.
  6. If you add a tilde before your search term it will force you to a search result page, rather than going straight to an article. This might be helpful in identifying content related to your topic.
  7. Use – or ! to exclude search terms.  
  8. Wildcard characters are * and \? And should be used in the middle or at the end of the word to allow for different spellings.
  9. Linksto: searches in pages that link to a given page. Can also be used with a hyphen prefix to find pages that do not link to a given page.

Search Within a Namespace.

Particularly relevant namespaces include Category, Portal, File, User, and Help. Within the Wikipedia search bar, you can preface your search with a Namespace, specifying exactly where you want it to search. Just enter the namespace followed by a colon and your search term. You can even search within Wikipedia’s sister projects (see below) using their full name and a colon. 

ex.     Category:Anthropology

Portal:Brazil

File:Muhammad Ali Mosque

More Languages? More Resources.

Wikipedia is home to over 6 million English language articles. However, many other languages (309 to be exact) are also represented in Wikipedia as well, many of them with over 1 million articles. These entries are not merely translations of their English language equivalents. Often they will offer different details, different references, and if they are based on a different culture, they may offer additional information and context. So, if you understand another language, use it!

Try Browsing

The left-hand side of any Wikipedia page is home to a menu of links to some of the services and resources made available. The second option there, “Contents” allows you to look at subject classifications, curated article collections, reference collections, and more. Options at the top of that page allow you to browse by subject and dig down toward your subject.