How to Use Google Scholar
By Wendy Boswell, About.com
What is Google Scholar?
Google Scholar is a great way to find scholarly and academic articles on the Web. Here’s an official blurb that sums it all up:
“From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations. Google Scholar helps you identify the most relevant research across the world of scholarly research.”
How do I find information with Google Scholar?
You can search for information via a variety of ways in Google Scholar. If you already know who the author is of the information you’re looking for, try their name:
You can also search by the title of the publication you’re looking for, or you can widen your search by browsing the categories over in the Advanced Search section. A word of caution: unless you’re feeling particularly ambitious, do NOT attempt to search by broad subject matter in Google Scholar; use the Advanced Search categories instead. You’ll just get too many search results to be useful otherwise.
What do the Google Scholar search results mean?
You’ll notice that your search results in Google Scholar look a bit different than what you’re used to. A quick explanation of your Google Scholar search results:
- the linked title of the article will go either to full article (if available) or the abstract (short version).
- “cited by”; this is a running count of other papers or articles that have cited that particular article (this is a good way to find even more articles in your field of interest, by the way).
- Library or outside database links: within some Google Scholar search results, you might see a link to “library search” or “find it in (insert library name here)”. These are just telling you if your local library has an online or offline copy of what you’re looking for, if an informational database has it, or if the university from which you’re searching with Google Scholar has an actual copy of the article.
- “group of…” – this is just another way to access more articles similar to the one that you’re looking at.
Google Scholar Shortcuts
Google Scholar can be a bit overwhelming; there’s a lot of very detailed information here. Here are a few shortcuts you can use to get around more easily:
- ehrenreich poverty: If you know the general subject of an author’s paper, just type in their last name with the subject.
- “barbara ehrenreich”: If you’re looking for a specific author’s works, type in the full name (or first name initial with last name) in quotes.
- author: ehrenreich: You can also use the author operator to return an author’s works.
- Google Scholar Advanced Search: There’s a few tricks that you only do within Google Scholar Advanced Search for some reason. For instance, if you are looking for a topic from a specific publication, enter in your topic in the “Find articles with all of the words” box, and the publication in the “Publication – Return articles published in” box. Kind of tricky but it’s a great way to return targeted results.
- Restrict the dates: You can also use Google Scholar Advanced Search to restrict the dates of what you’re looking for; just enter in what you want in the “Date-Return articles published between” area and you’re all set.