Introduction to Google Scholar

What is Google Scholar?

GS is a free web search engine that indexes scholarly literature such as:

  • Abstracts
  • Articles
  • Books
  • Journals 
  • Theses
  • Preprints
  • Technical Reports
  • Meeting abstracts

Quick facts

  1. GS index claims to include most peer-reviewed online journals of the world's largest scientific publishers
  2. Released in beta version in 2004
  3. Founding Google engineers:  Anurag Acharya and Alex Verstak
  4. Google claims to have full-text content from most major publishers AND hosting services
  5. Specialized bibliographic databases like WorldCat and PubMed are crawled for content

Similar in function to:

  •     Scirus from Elsevier
  •     CiteSeer
  •     getCITED
  •     Live Search Academic from Microsoft

Overview of features

Google Scholar screenshot 

1.  Title links to the abstract of the article, or when available on the web, the complete article.

2.  Cited By identifies other papers that have cited articles in the group.

3.  Related Articles finds other papers that are similar to articles in this group.

4.  Library Links (online) locates an electronic version of the work through your affiliated library's resources. These links appear automatically if you're on campus.

5.  Library Links (offline) locates libraries which have a physical copy of the work.

6.  Group of finds other articles included in this group of scholarly works, possibly preliminary, which you may be able to access. Examples include preprints, abstracts, conference papers or other adaptations.

7.  Web Search – Searches for the work or information about this work on the web through Google’s main search engine.

8.  BL Direct – Purchase the full text of the article through the British Library.  (Please use interlibrary loan to obtain an article if it is not available at the library.  GFU will not reimburse you for purchases made through the British Library.)

Tips on searching

By author

Enter the author’s name in quotation marks

Use initials for first name to increase results
            Example:  "p miller"

Use “author:” to hone results
            Example:  author:"p miller"

By title

Put the full title of the article in quotations

Article ranking in GS

  1. The most relevant results are listed on the first page
  2. Results are weighted by many criteria including:
  • full text
  • author
  • publication
  • citations

Benefits of GS

  • Find papers, abstracts and citations
  • Learn about key papers in any area of research
  • Search diverse sources from one convenient place
  • Easy to access
  • Fast and simple to use
  • OpenURL link resolvers provide seamless access to full-text content that is available through institutional subscriptions
  • Breadth of coverage, many unique topics
  • Effective way to find or verify citations

Limitations and Criticisms

  • Limited access to full-text documents
  • Not a comprehensive database even for material that is available at no cost through other open-access archives and databases
  • Not all results are scholarly/peer reviewed
  • No browsing options
  • Publication specific searches can be incomplete
  • Uneven topical coverage
  • Limited access to publisher’s sites
  • Database design problems can return inaccurate results
  • May include an item because it was found in the bibliography of another work
  • Link to pay-per-view or purchase option
  • Limited “advanced search” features: no nested Boolean searching, explode features, subheadings, or publication-type limits


Google Scholar is best used in conjunction with other resouces and with the knowledge of its positives and negatives.  It is a helpful resource for finding and tracking citations but do not use it with the expectation of being able to access full-text articles.


Bauer, Kathleen and Bakkalbasi, Nisa. 2005. An examination of citation counts in a new scholarly education environment. D Lib Magazine 11(9). 

Google Scholar. (2007, July 25). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 6, 2007, from

Using Google Scholar. (2005, August 23). Emory University Libraries. Retrieved July 20, 2007, from