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Google Scholar

Google Scholar Strengths

Fast and easy to use
Google Scholar can lead to hundreds of relevant "scholarly" articles in seconds.  It has a search interface similar to Google so it is clean and simple to use.

Provides a "cited by" feature
Google Scholar includes a list of references under each source.  Next to each paper list is "cited by" link.  Clicking on this link shows Google's citation analysis-- all the pages pointing to the original one listed are displayed.

Provides formatted citations
Click on "cite" link for citations in MLA, APA, or Chicago style.  You may also import citations to BibTeX, EndNote, RefMan, or RefWorks from Google Scholar.  Make sure to double check the citation formal provided with specific instructions from your professor and the resources provided on How to Cite Sources.

Provides library links
If an article is available at McQuade, the "Find it @ McQuade" link leads you directly to the article via McQuade Library for free.

Find open access journals
See full text of articles from open access journals and pre-print repositories that may not be in the library databases.  To learn more about open access see the Public Library of Science The Case for Open Access page.

Find science and technology articles
Currently Google Scholar is strongest in scientific, technical and medical disciplines thanks to partners such as PubMed, Cambridge Scientific Abstracts, and the Association for Computing Machinery.  New materials in the social sciences and humanities are being added.  You'll also find article citations from databases such as Project Muse and Ingenta.

Find patents and legal documents
Google Scholar has added the capability to include patents in an article search and to search for legal documents.  If you are interested in legal documents you can narrow your results by state and court by clicking the legal documents button under the main Google Scholar search box.  However, Google Scholar should be used either to get your feet wet at the beginning of your searching or as a last resort.  (See weeknesses.)

Google Scholar

Google Scholar

Google Scholar Weaknesses

Is everything really "scholarly"?
NO and Google has yet to reveal what criteria they are using to select "scholarly" material.  

As always, it is important to review and assess each source for its authority and quality for your research (see McQuade Library's "Criteria for Assessing Sources").

Hey-- I have to pay?!
Google Scholar often links to papers and articles on commercial publisher websites.  These sites will ask you to buy a subscription or pay for an article. DO NOT pay for articles.  Use the "Find it @ McQuade" links to find a copy of the item.  The options listed on the "Find it @ McQuade" menu will help you obtain the item -- either through a subscription, in print, or through interlibrary loan.

No full text?
Google Scholar is NOT a full text database.  Most records in Google Scholar are journal article citations, not articles in their entirety.  Articles indexed in Google Scholar may be accessible through Academic Search Premier, LexisNexis AcademicScienceDirect College Edition or other  Academic Search Premier, Lexis Nexis Academic, Science Direct, or other quality McQuade Library databases. Select "Find it @ McQuade" to see if we have full text access.

My results are all over the place.  Is there a way to sort results?
Keep in mind that a regular search displays highly relevant citations at the top of the list (just like in Google), not the most current materials.  Unfortunately, there is no easy way to sort, import, or email results like in McQuade databases.  Use the "Advanced Scholar Search" option by clicking on the down arrow in the search box.  A pop-up will appear to limit by date range and take advantage of other advanced searching features.

Sometimes I'm not sure what I'm looking at.
Your results may contain a hodgepodge of sources (including citations, cited references, and books).  Also duplicate and fragmentary entries may appear, as well as different editions of works, such as pre-prints, which may vary from the version published in a journal.  Ask a librarian for help if you are confused.  Librarians are available by chat, text, phone, email or in the Research Center on the 2nd floor of McQuade Library.

Patent and Legal Document Searching
Google Scholar's own disclaimer states that, "legal opinions in Google Scholar are provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed lawyer. Google does not warrant that the information is complete or accurate."  Use the Google Scholar for legal searching with this disclaimer in mind.  It may be a helpful place to start to get to the place where the primary legal documents reside or as a last resort.

Using Google Scholar