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Google Scholar: Introduction

What is Google Scholar?

Google Scholar Search
  • Google Scholar is a search engine that provides links to full-text articles to which the Benedictine Library subscribes or to articles made freely available by the publisher.
  • Google Scholar also provides articles from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and scholarly articles posted freely on the web.
  • Finally, Scholar provides citations along with abstracts of the article if it is protected by copyright.

Google Scholar Features

  • Fast and easy to use
    • Google Scholar can lead to hundreds of relevant "scholarly" articles in seconds.  It has a search interface similar to Google so it is clean and simple to use.
  • Provides a "cited by" feature
    • Google Scholar includes a list of references under each source.  Next to each paper list is "cited by" link.  Clicking on this link shows Google's citation analysis-- all the pages pointing to the original one listed are displayed.
  • Provides formatted citations
    • Click on "cite" link for citations in MLA, APA, or Chicago style.  You may also import citations to BibTeX, EndNote, RefMan, or RefWorks from Google Scholar.  Make sure to double check the citation formal provided with specific instructions from your professor and the resources provided in our Citation Guide. 
  • Provides library links
    • Once you have configured your Google Scholar preferences, you will be linked to articles available in the Benedictine Library collection,
  • Find open access journals
    • See full text of articles from open access journals and pre-print repositories that may not be in the library databases.  
  • Find science and technology articles
    • Currently Google Scholar is strongest in scientific, technical and medical disciplines thanks to partners such as PubMed, Cambridge Scientific Abstracts, and the Association for Computing Machinery.  New materials in the social sciences and humanities are being added.  You'll also find article citations from databases such as Project Muse and Ingenta.
  • Find patents and legal documents
    • Google Scholar has added the capability to include patents in an article search and to search for legal documents.  If you are interested in legal documents you can narrow your results by state and court by clicking the legal documents button under the main Google Scholar search box.  However, Google Scholar should be used either to get your feet wet at the beginning of your searching or as a last resort.  (See below.)

Weaknesses of Google Scholar

  • Is everything really "scholarly"?
    • NO and Google has yet to reveal what criteria they are using to select "scholarly" material.  
    • As always, it is important to review and assess each source for its authority and quality for your research (see the library's Evaluating Sources guide).
  • You may be asked to pay for access!
    • Google Scholar often links to papers and articles on commercial publisher websites.  These sites will ask you to buy a subscription or pay for an article. DO NOT pay for articles. Ask a librarian to help you find a copy of the item either in the library collection or via Interlibrary Loan.
  • No full text?
    • Google Scholar is NOT a full text database.  Most records in Google Scholar are journal article citations, not articles in their entirety.  Articles indexed in Google Scholar may be accessible in our library collection.  Ask a librarian to help you find a copy of the item either in the library collection or via Interlibrary Loan.
  • My results are all over the place.  Is there a way to sort results?
    • Keep in mind that a regular search displays highly relevant citations at the top of the list (just like in Google), not the most current materials.  Unfortunately, there is no easy way to sort, import, or email results as you can in the Benedictine Library databases.  Use the "Advanced Scholar Search" option by clicking on the down arrow in the search box.  A pop-up will appear to limit by date range and take advantage of other advanced searching features.
  • Sometimes I'm not sure what I'm looking at.
    • Your results may contain a hodgepodge of sources (including citations, cited references, and books).  Also duplicate and fragmentary entries may appear, as well as different editions of works, such as pre-prints, which may vary from the version published in a journal.   Ask a librarian for help if you are confused.  
  • Patent and Legal Document Searching
    • Google Scholar's own disclaimer states that, "legal opinions in Google Scholar are provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed lawyer. Google does not warrant that the information is complete or accurate."  Use the Google Scholar for legal searching with this disclaimer in mind.  It may be a helpful place to start to get to the place where the primary legal documents reside or as a last resort.
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