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4 Alternative Search Engines for Better Research Results

Madison McCollum

May 13, 2024

Google is kind of awful. 

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I use Google for everything, but it is a mess, especially when I consider the God-Tier search engine it used to be in my teens. When I was young, we trusted google to deliver the best results and even learned tricks to narrow down searches effectively. Now, Google has become a minefield of advertisements, optimized (affiliate) content, and SEO tactics that push genuine websites, businesses, and services further down the results page. 

Getting on the first page of Google now often means you’ve mastered the art of ‘website optimization,’ which means you essentially know how to craft your site with the right words and links to please Google’s ever-hungry algorithms. 

Research even shows that Google, and other search engines, are getting worse at delivering quality results. While I don’t have the answer to how we fix this, I do have some hope for those who rely on Google for research—students, scientists, or even the average-curious-George often have to sift through countless pages of content to find reputable information. 

Thankfully, there are several alternative search engines that can make the research process easier:

Refseek.com  

This academic resource search is great for students, researchers, or people wanting to research specific topics. It aims to make academic information easily accessible by tossing out sponsored links and commercial results. 

Base-search.net [Bielefeld Academic Search Engine] 

This search engine pulls from more than 11,000 content providers, 60% of which are open access (free). It’s ran by Bielefeld University Library, who all have been checked and approved by qualified personnel of the library staff. 

link.springer.com/ 

You can access more than 10 million scientific documents. From books to articles to research journals on various subjects. There are even open source text books on 10+ subjects: like Earth and Environmental Sciences and Statistics!

Science.gov 

Run by CENDI, a volunteer-powered organization, this search engine aims to increase the impact of federally funded science and technology research. Science.gov helps connect researchers to millions of research articles and is partnered with 12 Federal Agency Members.

Plus, a bonus:

Swisscows.com/en 

Most search engines take a little bit of your information with them. Maybe it’s just your location or IP address, maybe it’s your search results themselves— having information on you (as general as it may be) helps keep the lights on. 

Swisscow’s services are based in Switzerland, which has some of the most strict privacy policies in the world, and provides fully encrypted searches. It doesn’t keep any personal data, IP addresses, or search queries, and has a built-in filter for pornography and violence that can’t be overridden, making it a safer choice for kids.   

These alternatives can help streamline your research process and offer a break from the cluttered search results on Google, so give them a try the next time you're looking for something special!


Madison McCollum

May 19, 2021

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