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McNair Scholars at UW-La Crosse: Google Scholar

Google Scholar


Strengths of Google Scholar Weaknesses of Google Scholar

Fast and easy to use
Google Scholar can lead to hundreds of relevant "scholarly" articles in seconds.  It has a search interface similar to Google so it is clean and simple to use.

Provides a "cited by" feature
Google Scholar includes a list of references under each source.  Next to each paper list is "cited by" link.  Clicking on this link shows Google's citation analysis-- all the pages pointing to the original one listed are displayed.

Provides formatted citations
Click on "cite" link for citations in MLA, APA, or Chicago style.  You may also import citations to BibTeX, EndNote, RefMan, or RefWorks from Google Scholar.  Make sure to double check the citation formal provided with specific instructions from your professor.

Provides library links
If an article is available through Murphy Library, the "Find it @UWL" link leads you directly to the article for free.

Find open access journals
See full text of articles from open access journals and pre-print repositories that may not be in the library databases.  

Find science and technology articles
Currently Google Scholar is strongest in scientific, technical and medical disciplines thanks to partners such as PubMed, Cambridge Scientific Abstracts, and the Association for Computing Machinery.  New materials in the social sciences and humanities are being added.  

Find patents and legal documents
Google Scholar has added the capability to include patents in an article search and to search for legal documents.  If you are interested in legal documents you can narrow your results by state and court by clicking the legal documents button under the main Google Scholar search box.  

Is everything really "scholarly"?
NO and Google has yet to reveal what criteria they are using to select "scholarly" material.  

As always, it is important to review and assess each source for its authority and quality for your research.

I have to pay?
Google Scholar often links to papers and articles on commercial publisher websites.  These sites will ask you to buy a subscription or pay for an article. DO NOT pay for articles.  Use the "Find it @ UWL" links to find a copy of the item.  The options listed on the "Find it @ UWL" menu will help you obtain the item -- either through a subscription, in print, or through our InterLibrary Loan service.

No full text?
Google Scholar is NOT a full text database.  Many records in Google Scholar are journal article citations, not articles in their entirety.  

My results are all over the place.  Is there a way to sort results?
Keep in mind that a regular search displays highly relevant citations at the top of the list (just like in Google), not the most current materials.  Unfortunately, there is no easy way to sort, import, or email results like in UWL databases.  Use the "Advanced Scholar Search" option by clicking on the down arrow in the search box.  A pop-up will appear to limit by date range and take advantage of other advanced searching features.

The results are confusing.
Your results may contain a mix of sources (including citations, cited references, and books).  Also duplicate and fragmentary entries may appear, as well as different editions of works, such as pre-prints, which may vary from the version published in a journal.  Ask a librarian for help if you are confused.  

Patent and Legal Document Searching
Google Scholar's own disclaimer states that, "legal opinions in Google Scholar are provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed lawyer. 


Syncing to Murphy Library Database Articles

Not everything is free on Google Scholar. You may find an article's abstract and be asked to pay up to $50.00 for the full text.

However, since you are a member of the UWL community, you have access to everything through Murphy Library's paid subscription databases and services. 

Murphy Library has an agreement with Google Scholar to harvest the library's paid database results and show them in the Google Scholar results, saving you time and energy. 

You just have to configure your computer in five easy steps:


Understanding Google Scholar

1. Why does the "Find It @ UWL" link appear next to some items and not others?
Google Scholar displays this link after comparing the citation to our list of electronic subscriptions. Keep in mind that Google Scholar does not know when we have the print version, nor can it match an incomplete citation. So if the item is not available for free via the web, be sure to search our catalog to see if Murphy Library owns that title.

2. Is everything in Google Scholar free?
No. Google Scholar includes many citations that link directly to publishers' web sites of which most will charge a fee for access. However, Murphy Library subscribes to many of these publications.

3. How can I get the full text through Murphy Library?
The Find It @ UWL link should be your first choice. If this link is not available, try other links that are displayed, as Google Scholar may find several sources for the same citation. When you are unable to find free access to full text through Google Scholar, copy/paste the article title only in the main search box on Murphy Library's homepage to get access to the title.

4. How comprehensive is Google Scholar?
Google Scholar searches open access materials as well as items from many publishers, including some of the resources to which Murphy Library subscribes. However, Google Scholar only searches a fraction of the published scholarly literature. 

5. How do I search by author, or limit to certain publications or dates?
Find the Advanced Scholar Search under Settings. This allows for author, publication and date range searching.

6. What about citation searching?
Google Scholar provides forward citation searching, automatically extracting and displaying works cited as separate results.