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Google Scholar: Basic Searching

A guide on how to utilize Google Scholar for academic research

Basic Searching

Google Scholar automatically searches for

  • simple singular and plural forms of terms
  • additional different endings to some words,
  • related terms (The number of related terms included in the results may depend on the search being conducted. This feature cannot be turned off. There is no separate truncation search that allows the user to designate that a term should be searched with any possible ending.

For example:

  • sport returns   
    •  sport 
    •  sports
  • diet  returns    
    • diet 
    • diets 
    • dietary
  • woman may return   
    • woman 
    • women
    • female

Google Search Operators

Use operators to refine your search terms. Google Scholar also supports most of the advanced operators in Google web search:

  • the "-" operator excludes all results with the search term, as in [biomedicine -magnetic -anthropology]
  • phrase search only returns results that include this exact phrase, as in ["as you like it"]
  • the "~" operator will find synonyms for that word, as in [~robotics]
  • the "OR" operator returns results that include either of your search terms, as in [soccer OR football]
  • the "intitle:" operator as in [intitle:mars] only returns results that include your search term in the document's title
  • the "author" operator [author:flowers] returns papers written by people with the name Flowers, whereas [flowers -author:flowers] returns papers about flowers, and ignores papers written by people with the name Flowers

Advanced Search

Click on the hamburger icon (hamburger iconin the upper left corner of the Google Scholar search page. Advanced search is at the bottom of the list. 

location of the hamburger icon and advanced search on Google Scholar in the upper left portion of the window

Enter your subject search terms in the top four boxes according to how you want the terms to be combined.


Field 1: With all the words 

Forced AND search 

Field 2: Exact phrase search 

  • Entering terms in the "with the exact phrase" box will search for the phrase exactly as it was entered.
  • Use quotation marks in any other box to specify an exact phrase you want to search for or exclude.

Field 3 With at least one word

basic keyword search

Field 4 Without the words

Forced NOT search, excludes these terms

Field 5 Drop down selection

  • anywhere in the article  

will return a more complete set of articles related to your topic, but will also include more articles of less relevance because the term appears somewhere, but is not a major concept in the article

  • In the title of the article 

will return a more focused, but smaller, set of results since terms in the title of an article tend to be major concepts in the article. Some relevant articles will be missed because the terms appear in the text, but not the title.

Field 6 Author search 

Enter one or more names in the "Return articles authored by" box to search for specific authors.

  • Use quotation marks when searching for a first name or initials along with the last name to ensure all will appear in the same name.   
    •   "michael w collins"    
    •   "m w collins"
  • Enter initials with or without a space between them.   
    •   "m w collins"  
    •   "mw collins"
  • The order of the first and last name makes little difference to the search.  
    •  "michael collins"   
    • "collins michael"

Field 7 Journal search

To return results from a particular journal or publication, enter the publication title as either:

  • full title:              
    • ‚Äč   Nature 
    •  Journal of Biological Chemistry
  • abbreviation:      
    •  J Biol Chem   
    • Rev Educ Res

Abbreviations may vary. To be thorough, search both the full title and alternative forms of abbreviation. Examples of multiple abbreviations:

  • J Am Chem Soc 
  • J Amer Chem Soc 
  • Journal of the American Chemical Society 
  • JACS

Field 8 Date Range 

Not all recent articles will show up. 


Information adapted from Western Michigan University at

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