As December begins to approach, so too do deadlines for term papers for the college-university crowd. Google Scholar is a search engine by Google that has been out for a few years now and aims to make academic research a little more mainstream.
Using the Google Scholar portal, you can make basic or advanced searches for peer-reviewed journal articles, court decisions, magazine articles, books, patents, editorials, and other similar written publications.
Google Scholar offers a far more user-friendly interface than the typical journal index. It also provides direct links to the material. However, its scope is still limited, mainly to material <1o years old and in electronic format. Also, no single search engine, not even Google, can perfectly index all of the academic material out there in in the world, let alone cyberspace.
Google Scholar Search Tips
Narrowing down your search to the specific field you are looking for is a major challenge in academic research. Google Scholar allows you to search by author, title, year, and/or keywords. You can enter these in the specific fields in the advanced search section, or use advanced operators to specify your search terms. Here are some examples:
- Author search – use the “author:” operator, e.g., author:”r dawkins” or author:”richard dawkins”.
- “intitle:” operator only returns results that include your search term in the document’s title, e.g., intitle:neuroscience.
- “+” operator makes sure your results include common words, numbers, or letters that Google’s search technology generally ignores, e.g., “+no carbon footprint”.
- “-” operator excludes all results that include this search term, e.g., “diamond -author:diamond”.
- use of quotation marks to phrase search to match the exact string of words, e.g., “the tea party”.
- “OR” operator returns results that include either of your search terms, e.g., ruby OR sapphire.
Google Scholar Email Alerts
Another useful related tool is to sign up for email alerts by doing a scholar search on a topic, e.g., “particle physics”, and click on the envelope icon on the green bar that says “Create email alert”. This allows your Gmail account (or other inputted email account) to receive notices whenever a new paper/article/etc. that match the search parameters is published.
These are only a handful of all the functions offered by Google Scholar. Fine-tuning your searches is fairly easy compared to other academic indexes, but still takes some time to master. And for you university students out there, remember to always properly cite your references.
P.S. Wikipedia never counts as a primary reference.
Do you find Scholar to be a useful tool in your research? Let us at GT know in the comments section.