Intro to Using Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a free web search engine that indexes scholarly literature including:

GS index claims to include most peer-reviewed online journals of the world’s largest scientific publishers
Google claims to have full-text content from most major publishers AND hosting services
Specialized bibliographic databases like WorldCat and PubMed are crawled for content

Similar in function to:

  • Scirus from Elsevier
  • CiteSeer
  • getCITED
  • Live Search Academic from Microsoft

Tips on searching

By author

Enter the author’s name in quotation marks

Use initials for first name to increase results
Example:  “p miller”

Use “author:” to hone results
Example:  author:”p miller”

By title

Put the full title of the article in quotations

Article ranking in GS

  1. The most relevant results are listed on the first page
  2. Results are weighted by many criteria including:
  • full text
  • author
  • publication
  • citations

Benefits of GS

  • Find papers, abstracts and citations
  • Learn about key papers in any area of research
  • Search diverse sources from one convenient place
  • Easy to access
  • Fast and simple to use
  • OpenURL link resolvers provide seamless access to full-text content that is available through institutional subscriptions
  • Breadth of coverage, many unique topics
  • Effective way to find or verify citations

Limitations and Criticisms

  • Limited access to full-text documents
  • Not a comprehensive database even for material that is available at no cost through other open-access archives and databases
  • Not all results are scholarly/peer reviewed
  • No browsing options
  • Publication specific searches can be incomplete
  • Uneven topical coverage
  • Limited access to publisher’s sites
  • Database design problems can return inaccurate results
  • May include an item because it was found in the bibliography of another work
  • Link to pay-per-view or purchase option
  • Limited “advanced search” features: no nested Boolean searching, explode features, subheadings, or publication-type limits


Google Scholar is best used in conjunction with other resources and with the knowledge of its positives and negatives.  It is a helpful resource for finding and tracking citations but do not use it with the expectation of being able to access full-text articles.


Bauer, Kathleen and Bakkalbasi, Nisa. 2005. An examination of citation counts in a new scholarly education environment. D Lib Magazine 11(9).

Google Scholar. (2007, July 25). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 6, 2007, from

Using Google Scholar. (2005, August 23). Emory University Libraries. Retrieved July 20, 2007, from

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