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How Do I Use Google Scholar?

A guide on how to connect Google Scholar to Jessie C. Eury Library resources.

What about Google Scholar?

 Google Scholar searches scholarly material on the internet based upon how many times the scholarly resource has been cited.  As such Google Scholar can be a great tool to use as a complement to the article databases or when you are unable to access article databases.  However, Google Scholar also has several limitations of which to be aware.

To begin with, as Google Scholar uses the number of times an item has been cited by other sources to determine how “scholarly” an item is, often the first sources listed in your search may be quite old.  Keep in mind professors often want articles that are published within the last five years.

Google Scholar does not have the option to browse by title.  Google indicates their service indexes specific papers rather than entire journals. This causes indexing and coverage to be spotty and uneven.  Google Scholar also indicates that although new items are added weekly that it can take 6-9 months or even up to a year for updates to occur. 

Google Scholar has very few humans involved in their product and relies upon computer algorithms and data harvesters to crawl the internet the find information.  These harvesters are unable to check data for accuracy which often causes incorrect citations or garbled data that may not be corrected for months if ever.

The largest issue with using Google Scholar is that you will often be prompted to pay for access to full text articles.  Many of these same article are available for FREE to Lincoln Christian University patrons through our article databases or may be obtained for free using Get It!   

Search Tricks for Google Scholar

To get the most out of Google Scholar there are several options to make your search more specific. 

Google Scholar menu and google Scholar Advanced Search screen. Text says Click the Google Scholar menu and then select Advanced search.

  • With all the words will only find items containing each word you enter.
  • With the exact phrase is very helpful when searching for a specific item that is always described in a phrase such as "synoptic gospels." A search for Synoptic Gospels With all the words returned 1,230 items but the same search with the exact phrase had 717 items.
  • With at least one of the words is helpful if your topic can be described using multiple words. Be careful as this can result in a very large search.
  • Without the words is helpful when you want to exclude a term from your search.