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Using Google Scholar

This Guide

This LibGuide will offer direction for making the best use of the Google Scholar index for academic research. Google Scholar uses a simple, single search box like regular Google, but instead of searching across the whole web it searches Google's index of scholarly resource citations. With Google Scholar's simplistic search and limited refinement options, using Advanced Search features can improve the quality and accuracy of search results. While Google Scholar sometimes includes full-text access, most often it only includes only a citation. If you need to access an article or other resource, email the citation information to and we will attempt to acquire the article through interlibrary loan

Why Use Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a freely accessible web search engine that indexes scholarly literature across various publishing formats and disciplines. This is an excellent source for journals and articles not explicitly connected to the academic study of religion.

What's the difference between Google Scholar and an academic database like Atla Religion Database with AtlaSerials?

Academic databases are searchable collections of published sources specify exactly what books, journals, etc. are drawn from and can typically provide direct access if the library subscribes to the service. In many databases, you can easily find a list of publications they are pulling citations from. That means you can tell if you'll be able to find articles from The Journal of Pastoral Care in the database or not. Additionally, academic databases frequently have a subject specific focus and have many options for limiting search results.

Google Scholar is also a searchable collection of published sources, but because Google keeps their proprietary information private, they do not share where content is sourced from. We don't know exactly where the citations are coming from, what will be included, or what might be missing. Additionally, Google Scholar covers all disciplines and only has a few advanced search options.

Google Scholar is recommended for:

  • Identifying journal titles and authors connected with subjects of interest at the beginning of your research
  • Previewing resources that have been partially digitized before requesting them from the library or purchasing
  • Locating obscure references that are proving difficult to find in other available databases
  • Locating more information on partial citations
  • Identifying well regarded scholarship by viewing the number of times and by whom their work(s) is cited
  • Finding "gray literature" like conference proceedings and records from government agencies or academic institutions. It includes many articles that wouldn't get included in other indexing services

Google Scholar cannot:

  • Specify a search within a particular discipline
  • Sort results by common attributes like title, author, or format
  • Limit search results, except for by date 
  • Offer full-text availability for all indexed resources

Things to note:

  • You may get a long list of results, but you will only have access to those resources that have a PDF URL in the listing. Any other resources will need to be requested via interlibrary loan.
  • Not everything in Google Scholar is scholarly. Google Scholar searches academic websites (.edu) as well as journals and publisher websites. Search results can include PowerPoints, news announcements or unpublished materials as well as articles and books. 
  • Searching in Google Scholar is imprecise when compared with discipline-specific databases.

Access Google Scholar

Google Scholar logo


There is no sign in necessary to use Google Scholar. But, if you would like to save resources from search results to "My Library" you will need to log in with an email account (Gmail or To get started, select the green "Start Using Google Scholar" button on this page or from the Open Access Digital Theological Library section of the Article and Journals LibGuide.

Add Meadville Lombard Library Link

Google Scholar allows you to add library links such that should a resource be available at your home library, a link to the catalog record can be included in results in Google Scholar.

To add Meadville Lombard to your Google Scholar results, once signed in to an email address, select the three line "expand" icon in the upper left of Google Scholar to expand the menu and then select "Settings" from the drop-down:

Google Scholar menu with "Settings" selected

Select "Library links" from the left menu and search for "Meadville Lombard Theological School":

Selection screen for library access links

Use the checkbox to select "Meadville Lombard Theological School - ViewIt@MLTS" and then "Save" to add it to your Google Scholar search profile:

Selection screen for library access links with Meadville Lombard Theological School marked to appear in search as "View@MLTS"

When searching, look for "GetIt@MLTS" as an access option in results. These links will open the item's record in the online catalog:

Result in Google Scholar with "GetIt@MLTS" highlighted

Meadville Lombard Wiggin Library
180 N. Wabash Ave.
Suite 625 
Chicago, IL 60601

Library and Archives Phone: 312-546-6488        Library Email:        Archives Email: