Using Search Tools
for finding art information


Finding exactly the information you need for your studies on Indigenous art can be made easier using the methods and tools described on this page. By using sources like TROVE (a government-supported Australian database of all kinds of information) or advanced search techniques for GOOGLE you may often find online the material you need, however much informaiton is still available only in books and printed jourrnals (see KVV for example) which may often be obtained by inter-library loan. For additional tutorials on finding information, see e.g. Online Research for University Students (University of Western Australia).

Trove (Australia)

Trove is a huge database sponsored by the Australian government to provide public access to library, government and public-domain data and images. The advanced search pagge offers access to the most comprehensive online database for information from Australia. The front page of the site, visited in October 2012, stated: "Find and get over 311,096,675 Australian and online resources: books, images, historic newspapers, maps, music, archives and more". Users should begin by reading the general help pages.

Note that Trove is not yet a complete index of all digitized material which is available on every individual Australian library website. That means, you may do a complete search on Trove yet still find other material on e.g. National Library of Australia.


There are many articles about efficient use of Google. Using is easy, using it efficiently or with discrimination is not. The advanced search entry is much to be preferred since it supports the following list of search commands and more. The following articles are helpful guides, from simple to advanced: Quick guide, Google Official Guide, Harvard University Guide to Googe

Some special commands can be used within the Google search text entry. The following seldom-used search terms can greatly help in refining a search. In all cases below, to see the method, copy and paste the bold text example into the text entry area shown at

  • OR is a command which MUST be written in capital letters and which allows either one or even both keywords written on either side of the OR-commend to be included in the search. Normally Google searches assume that every word MUST occur. For example, try typing in aboriginal OR Kngwarreye and you may see over 40 million hits, but try typing in the usual keywords aboriginal Kngwarreye and Goole finds only about 100,000 hits (i.e. with both keywords on the page).
  • AROUND(n) is a command which MUST be written in capital letters and must have a keyword before and after it, where n is an integer number n= 2,3,4 ... It prioritizes pages where both keywords are within n words of eachother to the top of the list of found hits. This may only be apparent when one actually opens the pages, but it does work. For an example, try typing in kngwarreye AROUND(3) born and you will find many pages refering to Emily Kngwarreye and her birth date or area; without the command there are many hits in the first pages which refer to other artist's birth dates too.
  • filetype:xxx where xxx is a file extension (PDF, DOC, XLS, PPT, ODP see this google link for a full list) is a command which will limit the documents displayed to those matching the extension. Since PDF documents are even today still more likely to be the result of some publishing process rather than a private blog, this has the result of focusing on more "serious" documents instead of blogs and advertisements. For example, try typing in kngwarreye AROUND(3) born filetype:PDF to restrict the previous example to show only Adobe PDF files.
  • site: restricts the search to pages from that high-level web address. For example, try typing in or alternatively
  • inurl: requires that the following text is part of the web-address (URL) and is useful to restrict searches to a part of a website. Note however that it cannot be combined with site:. For example, try typing in inurl:infothek
  • cache: will show the version of the web page that Google has in its cache. For example, try typing in cache:

Google Images

The Google search engine includes menu items to search only for video or only for image material. Finding many images of Emily Kngwarreye's paintings is of course very easy.

However, it is also possible to seek images which are visually similar. This special feature of the image search engine is accessed by clicking on the small image of a camera which is embedded at the end of the usual text entry field. That opens using javascript (if you are not one of the users who deactivates this in their web-browser) a data entry field where you can paste the web address (URL) of any image from the www (or you can also immediately upload one), and Google will seek similar images. For example, try copying and pasting the following link:

Google Books

Google Books has copyright permissions to display digital copies, sometimes including the full text, of a large number of works. The Harvard University Google Books Advanced Search page provides easy ways to restrictd the search to only books, only majazines, only full-text, etc. Usually the amount of full-text displayed is quite limited, however it is sufficient to judge whether reading a physical copy of the work would be useful.

Google Scholar

The search engine Google has a special topic area for searching scholarly journals and papers. The general description of what www material is included by Google Scholar is given here. Google Scholar has its own help guide and further advanced search tips.

By selecting the small black triangle at the end of the text entry field, it is possible to access the advanced search functions which allow limiting the search to particular years, etc. For example, there were 31 articles with "aboriginal art" in the title in the years since the beginning of 2010. Some articles are available as full-text, usually in PDF format. For comparison, a  search across all www pages since 2010 with "aboriginal art" in the page title, and requiring PDF format, results in over 7000 entries - Google Scholar is highly selective.

Each found article is accompanied by a few special links. The special link "Cited by n" (where n is a number 2, 3, ...) jumps to a list of other articles which cite the current one. This number n gives an indication of the "popularity" or importance of an article. By definition the citing articles are more recent, so this also allows a way to "jump forward in time" from a known older article to newer ones on similar topics. The special link "Related Articles" is Google's guess (based on keywords and search histories) about other articles which might be on a similar topic.

ScienceDirect Database

The search engine of ScienceDirect ( provides access to hundreds of millions of scientific journal articles and books, with many cross-referencing features. It is possible to find many relevant articles using the search system, however most of the full-text features are only available at major libraries (which pay the commercial fees).