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What is Google Scholar?

  • How does it compare to other databases?
  • How does it work?

Google Scholar is a search engine that indexes scholarly materials that are available through the World Wide Web, as well as library holdings from WorldCat, and citations from other materials. Some of the full text items that Google Scholar points to are available free of charge; some are not. A significant portion of the journal articles Google Scholar points to are available through Drew Library e-journal subscriptions.

In particular, many publishers who put their journal issues up on the web have submitted their sites to Google Scholar, so that pages pointing to online journal articles are retrieved, but a subscription to the electronic journal or a one time payment is necessary to access the article itself. (If Drew libraries are subscribed to the electronic journal and you are using Google Scholar from on campus, you may actually be able to get into the full text of the article.) Google Scholar tries to target "peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research.. . . articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web."

How do things get indexed in Google Scholar?

Publishers contact Google Scholar to have their material included. The references/citations of articles are also indexed, so that while a book or journal may not be available on the web, the citation will be shown if it was cited in a document Scholar indexes.

The indexing is actually done by Google Scholar's web-crawling software, so it may take some time for new items to be indexed.

Results are ranked by 'relevance' based on occurences of terms in the result document, as well as by Google's co-citation algorithm: "This relevance ranking takes into account the full text of each article as well as the article's author, the publication in which the article appeared and how often it has been cited in scholarly literature".

That includes selections from

  • Pubmed, and online articles indexed in Pubmed
  • Ingenta.com and online versions of articles indexed in Ingenta
  • ACM Portal, IEEE, American Institute of Physics, arXiv.org, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature.com, American Medical Association and other medicine journals, Nature.com
  • SpringerLink,Wiley Interscience, Cambridge journals, Taylor and Francis, Sage Publications, Blackwell-Synergy, and others
  • Online preprints of articles posted by authors on their websites
  • Online dissertations and theses
  • Instructional materials put up on the web
  • Specific web sites dedicated to scholarly or near-scholarly material.
  • Open-access legal case and discussion sites
  • OpenWorldcat records for books-- but not all books; it appears that only books cited in other Google Scholar-indexed materials are included.

Not all of any of these collections is searchable through Google Scholar; only article collections that provide at least an abstract for free can be indexed, and not all of the available content has been or will be indexed.

So, what is Google Scholar good for?

  • Finding journal articles by words title and abstract (not subject) across a wide variety of electronic journals
  • Finding materials by author across disciplines.
  • Finding free preprint and open-access copies of journal articles on the web
  • Natural language searching for articles and resources by subject across disciplines, especially content that Drew may not have direct access to(alternative to Summon)
  • Finding recently published material
  • Finding papers and websites that cite a particular paper or book
  • Setting up current awareness search alerts
  • Citation verification, citation capture
  • First-pass legal lookup.
  • Academic research when academic indexes are not available, or to supplement academic indexes

What is Google Scholar Not Good for?

  • There is little restricted subject indexing.
  • Dissertations available through UMI are not well covered.
  • It is in no way comprehensive, and has limited field searching and proximity searching; turn to subject area indexes for sophisticated searching.
  • Boolean logic searching (AND, OR, NOT) and word-root truncation (stem*) are not available. Ok, well, OR is available, but not trustworthy. Again, turn to subject indexes.

When using Google Scholar, bear in mind that the search algorithm is subject to change without notice and not well-documented to the public.

How do I search Google Scholar?

Go to scholar.google.com and type in your search terms. Boolean logic (AND, OR) will be ignored, so don't bother with it.

ONCE YOU HAVE A SEARCH RESULT, you will see options on the left side that let you limit your search

You can also go directly to advanced search, by clicking the down-pointing triangle on the right side of the search box:

Using the menu items on the left, you can limit

  • Articles only, articles and patents, or legal cases
  • To items published since a specific date, 

Setting Preferences

Set your preferences so that you will see items owned by Drew. Click on Scholar Preferences and go down to Library Links: 

Search for Drew in the Find Library box, and check the Drew University Links. Click Save Preferences to save these settings. You will have to do this only once for each web browser/computer you use.


Reaching Journal articles

Journal and proceedings citations will appear like this:

The title link will go to the first-named cite (Springer, in this case); to try your luck at another site, click on "All x versions" to see other links.

In general, when the full text or PDF item is freely accessible and indexed, it may be the linked to the right of the title.

Cited by references

To find other resources in Google Scholar that cite a book or other item, bring up the entry and choose the Cited by [##] link:

That will bring up a list of items in Google Scholar that cite the item.

Create Email Alert

You can have Google Scholar email you when new articles covered by your search are indexed. To do that, click on the "Create Email Alert"  button to the left of or at the bottom of your search results.

Then fill in the blanks in the Alert box with your email address, and click "Create Alert"

You'll get a confirmation email to be sure you really are the person who wants this alert-- respond to it and you're good to go.

To see the most recent rather than the most cross-referenced/relevant items, click the "Recent articles" link in the green bar at the top of your search. The names of the most-common authors in your search results will display on the left side of the screen; click on a name to do an author search.

Advanced Scholar Search:

Click the down-pointing triangle to get Advanced Search:

You can search Google Scholar using field limits, or go into Advanced Search to limit by date or publication.

  • author:name
    author:"ab name"
  • site:domain.edu

Also, you can use phrase searching ("surround the phrase with quotes"), the + sign before a term to require it, and the - sign before a term to remove it, such as poland history -holocaust .

Of particular use are the ability to search by date of publication, by author and by publication (journal title), not available on regular Google. However, if the date of publication or the author is not easily identified on the document, it will not be searchable.

You can limit to legal opinions and journals as seen above.

GoogleChrome Google Scholar Button

The Chrome web browser has an add-on available for GoogleScholar that allows you to search terms in Google Scholar by highlighting them on the web page you are viewing, then clicking the button. Use this helper app to check whether articles are available at Drew or via open access institutions.

Worldcat.org/Open Worldcat searching (Library Search)

Some entries are for Books (i.e. books in Google Books), and you can use the "Library Search" to check whether the book is available. Click on "More" and then choose "Library Search"

Clicking on Library Search brings up the WorldCat.org page:

If the user is in an institution or library that is part of Worldcat.org, there will be a box in the upper right corner with any direct library services, such as a link to the institution's catalog.

To find libraries that hold this book, the user enters their postal code or state in the 'Find Libraries with Item' Box:

A list of the libraries in Worldcat holding the item appears below the Find Libraries box:

Clicking on the library name will link to the record in that library's catalog; Clicking on Library Information links to the library's main or hours webpage. You can also click links in the book record to search those terms (such as Gardens -- History) in Worldcat.org.

To search only Open Worldcat, go to worldcat.org.

What about GoogleBooks?

Some ttems from Google Book Search are also incorporated into the GoogleScholar search. Google Book Search allows you to search inside the digitized text of books, and to see snippets of varying sizes of the text of books in Google Book Search. (Books that are out of copyright may be displayed in their entirety. Here's an example.

Clicking on the title link will put you in the Google Book Search page displaying the first hit on your terms in the book.

You can use the Find in a library  link to search for the item, or use the Search box to search for specific terms in the book.

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