Google Scholar

Google Scholar is Google’s specialized search engine aimed at identifying scholarly literature online. “From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites” (About Google Scholar).

You will often be required and, in fact, find yourself needing to use a particular library database for specific courses assignments, so in this regard Google Scholar is certainly not the be all and end all of academic search engines. However, if you are ever seeking a broad, panorama-like search of scholarly sources, Google Scholar is a legitimate option to consider.

Some important things to note:

  • Many article results will essentially be links leading to publisher websites. Checking for full-text may require taking further steps via the library’s Journals List. That being said, there are also many articles that will link you directly to the full-text in places such as JSTOR if you are on campus and the library subscribes to the content being found.
  • Book results will come primarily from Google Books, a vast repository of scanned books (partial and whole). The vast majority of the books here will be “limited previews,” meaning that, for obvious reasons, copyright restrictions permit only portions of the text be made freely available. However, you can get access to complete print versions of these titles through HopeCat, MeLCat and InterLibrary Loan services.

Here is an example search using the “Advanced Google Scholar” page:

Google Scholar

While ambivalence toward information sources found by “Googling” will continue to be present in academic circles, Google Scholar has proven itself satisfactory and worthy of our attention.

So who says librarians don’t embrace the Internet?

As with any other research-related questions, feel free to ask us if you would like to know more about a source you find online. Is it legit? Can I get the full-text? How do I know if it is peer-reviewed? There’s a ton of information out there. It can be chaos, but we’re here to help dissect it.

Todd Wiebe
Reference and Instruction Librarian
Van Wylen Library

Leave a comment