In any research process, the literature search is considered as one of the most important stages. Thanks to the internet, people can go online and Google the necessary literature to complete their studies. However, Google can be a vast ocean with too many resources. There’s just too much information out there.
Instead of spending a long time Googling studies, why not try Google Scholar?
Introducing Google Scholar
Google Scholar (GS) is a branch of Google made for searching academic resources. Think of it as the scholarly version of Google. It offers users literary sources, such as books, articles, abstracts and dissertations from a variety of fields.
When you use GS, you won’t search all the websites on Google; instead, you’ll search repositories of universities, publishers and other scholarly websites.
Google Scholar has a smaller pool compared to Google searches. Most of the results you’ll find in GS are reliable scholarly sources only. But GS is free and easy to use via a desktop, laptop or mobile device. It also includes a number of handy features.
If you’re going to use Google Scholar search, keep in mind that Google isn’t too meticulous in what it includes in the results, unlike subscription-based databases like Web of Science or Scopus. So it’s always worth your time to assess the credibility of the resources found in Google Scholar.
Is Google Scholar Better than “Regular” Google Search?
“Normal” Google is always helpful in answering daily internet searches. But if you’re looking for something more academic yet just as familiar as Google, Google Scholar can make your life easier.
One of the pros of using GS is its interface. It is familiar and comforting to anyone who uses Google. This means you don’t have to learn complex tricks to find the scholarly information you need.
Also, Google Search offers the following:
- Links that enable users to find full-text versions of articles.
- Links that allow you to explore works that cited the listed work you’re working with.
- The option to copy formatted citations in different styles, including APA and MLA.
- Export bibliographic data via reference management software.
Although using Google Scholar is free, most of the content is not. However, Google always finds the best copies of restricted articles to help you with your search.
You Can Customize Search Options and Preferences on Google Scholar
You don’t have to adjust the settings of Google Scholar to get the best results. But to maximize your experience, GS offers additional customization features, which include library integrations.
You can find the settings menu on the top left of the Google Scholar page. Its settings are divided into the following sections:
- Language. If you want results in a specific language, you can define that here.
- Search results. This contains the most common controls:
- Bibliographic manager. If you are using another academic reference manager, allow the export of citation format via this feature. The available options include Mendeley, RefMan, EndNote and BibTex.
- Collections to search. By default, GS searches articles and patents, but you can change this setting if you’re not interested in one or the other.
- Button. This Chrome extension enables users to search Google Scholar from any website.
- Library links. As mentioned above, you can still get full-text articles through an institution’s subscription. Search for and add your institution to have a relevant link.
How to Use Google Scholar
There’s no such thing as an “I’m Feeling Lucky Button” on GS, so finding the right citations or studies will require some best practices.
To get the most out of this search tool:
Carefully Define the Keywords You Use
Avoid typing random keywords to find something useful. You might end up with repetitive search results. Instead, jot down the things you want to learn in your research. Next, break down these ideas into chunks or subtopics. Once you have your subtopics, create a list of keywords and phrases that can help you find information for each subtopic.
If you’re unfamiliar with a topic, use online news publications, encyclopedias and other sources available on Google’s standard search engine. Use these sources to mine for keywords to use on GS for a richer set of results.
Avoid Redundant Efforts with Libraries to Stay Organized
Create libraries to save search results. Google Scholar allows users to create libraries for specific research topics. When you find results that match your intent, save the content to a relevant library, bookmark it or copy the link for later use.
Google Scholar is a useful resource for academic research and pursuits. You can also use this tool to look into many topics and make your research significantly easier.