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Google Scholar: Home

A guide on how to utilize Google Scholar for academic research

Google Scholar is...

Google Scholar is a search engine that provides links to full-text articles to which the University Library system subscribes or to articles made freely available by the publisher or author via pre-prints. 

 "We index papers, not journals." https://scholar.google.com/intl/en/scholar/help.html#coverage

"Google Scholar includes journal and conference papers, theses and dissertations, academic books, pre-prints, abstracts, technical reports and other scholarly literature from all broad areas of research. You'll find works from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies and university repositories, as well as scholarly articles available anywhere across the web. Google Scholar also includes court opinions and patents." https://scholar.google.com/intl/en/scholar/help.html#coverage


What does Google Scholar find?  

Includes Excludes
  • substantial fraction of scholarly articles published in the last five years. 
  • journal articles from websites that follow our inclusion guidelines;
  • selected conference articles in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering;
  • preprints from arXiv, SSRN, NBER and RePEC - for these sites, we compute metrics for individual collections, e.g., "arXiv Superconductivity (cond-mat.supr-con)" or "CEPR Discussion Papers".
  • journal articles
  • books
  • technical reports
  • legal cases
  • grey literature
  • patents
  • pre-prints
  • other kinds of scholarly documents.
  • Google Scholar Metrics and overview of inclusion from July 2020
  • court opinions, patents, books, and dissertations;
  • publications with fewer than 100 articles published between 2010 and 2014;
  • publications that received no citations to articles published between 2010 and 2014.
  • don't currently cover a large number of articles from smaller publications

Why use Google Scholar?

Google Scholar is not a replacement for subject databases available through the WMU Libraries. Instead, Google Scholar complements the collection and expands your research. 

Pros Cons
  • Broaden search to what is not indexed in databases owned by WMU libraries
  • Easy natural language search
  • Quick citation count to weigh the impact factor of an article
  • Quick links to citing literature
  • Easy to do a thorough/extensive review of the literature
  • Quick proxy links to full text articles via WMU databases
  • Create an account to set up alerts for different searches
  • Ease of use; similar features of Google web search
  • Search by cited feature
  • Ranking of results
  • Citation information provided
  • Search vast array of information; technical reports, preprints, societal publications
  • Full-text if available
  • Full-text not available or restriction access without a subscription
  • Uneven coverage in social sciences, better for hard sciences
  • No limiter for just scholarly publications
  • Few options to limit or narrow search results
  • Unable to find out exactly what the content is, or what is missing. 

Caution is needed

  • Google Scholar does not index all scholarly articles; therefore, some articles citing the item under study may not be counted.
  • Google Scholar includes citations from an array of sources in its cited by calculation, including PowerPoints and Word documents, and gives everything an equal rank.
  • Author names can be tricky to search and the results can vary greatly depending on how the name is entered; we recommend searching only the author's last name and combining that with the main title in quotations.
  • Variants in how the item is cited can result in more than one entry for the item under study.
  • The term "citation" in brackets [CITATION] at the beginning of an entry, indicates that the full text of the item is not accessible through Google Scholar. Use Library Search to try to locate the complete record. 
*Fun Fact: Google Scholar accidentally parsed information from a school lunch menu!

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Information adapted from Western Michigan University at https://libguides.wmich.edu/c.php?g=1056488&p=7675686

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