Google Scholar: Introduction
Google Scholar is what is known as an academic search engine. Just as search engines search for regular web content, Google Scholar searches the web for academic or scholarly content. Scholarly content on the web normally takes the form of journal articles, which will present original research data and findings, and review or offer opinion on specific topics in the topic of interest. Anyway, Google Scholar will search what it considers to be scholarly material and so present a very different set of results to regular Google. Regular Google will have adverts, maybe a map, a definition, questions and search results, which will be from any kind of site. Google Scholar results will come from books, journals and other research publications. Here's search results for sleep from both Google and Google Scholar. Can you see a difference?
Regular Google's results here come from the likes of Sleepcycle.com and Webmd.com - commercial organisations, while Google Scholar has results from Sleep Medicine Reviews and the New England Journal of Medicine. On regular Google you're as likely to find sites trying to sell you stuff as provide information. Google Scholar is the place to go to find credible material for your research, written by experts.
Results from a Google Scholar search can include:
- journal articles
- technical reports
- legal cases (US only)
- grey literature
Advantages and Disadvantages of using Google Scholar
- Full-text when available
- Easy to use - looks like regular Google
- Huge variety of sources
- Useful personalisation features
- Can find similar or related articles
- Google is not transparent about the content it includes, or how it ranks relevance
- Publishers sometimes request that Google Scholar not index their publications.
- Google use their own definition of scholarly material so that non-scholarly content can appear in search results
- Limited range of options to narrow or refine searches
- Google have a history of killing off their services and products, so the long-term stability of Google Scholar cannot be guaranteed.
Having said that, as long as Google Scholar is available, it is a good place to look for material that you need for study or assignments.
This section contains:
- Help on searching Google Scholar
- Information on the details available in search results
- Ways to get more out of Google Scholar using personalised features.
- Links to Google Scholar help and some other related resources