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Using Google Scholar

Refine Search Options

Google Scholar has limited options for refining search results in comparison with academic databases. But, there are a few options:

Refine results menu with options to limit and sort Google Scholar search results

1. Use one of the pre-selected date range options (current year, previous year, last 5 years) or select a custom date range.  It is generally recommended for students to look for recent scholarship, usually within 10 years of the search year.

2. There are just two sort options, relevance or date of publication. Sort by relevance is the default setting.

3. Google Scholar indexes United States patent documentation in addition to scholarship. Google Patents covers the entire collection of issued patents and millions of patent applications made available by the USPTO, from patents issued in the 1790s through the present. Mark this checkbox to include patents in your search - it is deselected by default.

4. Leave this checkbox marked to include results with just citation information, but no full-text availability. Request item(s) via interlibrary loan that are unavailable in full-text.

5. Select "Create alert" to set up an e-mail alert whenever new resources are indexed that match your search.

Results List Attributes

A result from a Google Scholar search

1. Selecting the hyperlinked resource title will open the web page from which Google Scholar sourced the content from. This is typically a publisher website. Following this link will not open the resource itself, but will have more bibliographic information available to use to create an interlibrary loan request.

A scholar's profile with numbers of citations of their work noted and links to their published work2. One of the most useful features of Google Scholar is its tracking of scholarly citations. Selecting the hyperlinked author/creator name will open their profile which includes a listing (with associated bibliographic details and a link, if available) of their published work and the number of times they have been cited by other scholars. This can be helpful both for determining the quality of a resource based on the authors standing, as well as finding additional related resources that could be beneficial to your research if the author writes to a specific discipline. You may also discover new resources to track down based on who/where a work central to your research has been cited.

3. Results include brief publication information after the author name, typically the publication name and year of publication.

4. If a resource is available online, without pay restrictions, a URL will appear to the right of the description. Selecting that link will either open the resource directly to be viewed online or offer the option to download.

5. Results include brief abstracts of the resource with your search terms in bold font.

6. Select the star icon to save a resource to "My Library" - a place to store favorites in Google Scholar. To make use of this feature, you must be signed in to an email account.

7. Select the quotation mark icon to generate a citation for the resource in one of the standard citation styles (MLA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, or Vancouver) to copy/paste or export to a citation manager. Always review generated citations for accuracy before including them in your work to avoid errors in your final product.

8. Results include the number of times the resource has been cited by other authors in published work. Selecting the hyperlinked "Cited by #" will open a list of the resources where the citation appears.

9. Select "Related Articles" to open a list of resources Google Scholar has categorized as connected - usually by subject matter, publication, or author.

10. Google Scholar groups together versions of a resource in one result listing. Select "All # versions" to view a list of versions, typically the same exact resource but available from different sources/websites.

Result of a Google Scholar search with the "Library Search" link selectedBook results may have an additional option for "Library Search." Select "Library Search" to open a WorldCat search for the title which will list what libraries hold the book in their collection.

Example of a citation result from a Google Scholar SearchIf you marked the checkbox for "include citations" your results will include records like this that do not have a link out to site where Google Scholar sourced the citation. Use the limited information from these brief records to search elsewhere for the resource through the library, or request through interlibrary loan

Meadville Lombard Wiggin Library
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