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Google Scholar Search Tips: Google Search Tips

What it Google Scholar?

Google Scholar is a free, online tool that searches "across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites.” Although not all of Google Scholar's citations are peer-reviewed, searchers may find that the resource helps them discover citations they would not find in traditional databases.

What you need to know about using Google Scholar

  • What's good:
    • A good tool if you need articles or citations from academic areas that the LRC's databases do not cover, i.e. Social Sciences or Business.
    • Accesses Open Source articles that some databases may not have.
  • On the downside:
    • Cannot yet distinguish between authors who may have the same name, i.e., Walter Reed, Walter E. Reed, or W. Reed.
    • Google's computer algorithms will sometimes make mistakes, such as misreading an author's university affiliation as an additional author. Therefore, it is advisable to check any citations you download from Google Scholar because there are often errors.
    • There is no subject index, so you cannot browse a subject catalog for articles.

Search Tips

Google Scholar allows users to employ "keyword" searching to locate citations. Because of this, users may need to supply synonyms and variant spellings for search terms. For instance, a search of HIV will retrieve HIV, but not AIDS or human immunodeficiency virus. You may have to perform several searches or use multiple terms to find all relevant articles with Google Scholar.

Quick Search

For a quick search, enter your search tems in the search box. You will get a high number of results! For better precision try using some of the following operators.

  • The plus sign (+) will search for all the terms you request, i.e. airborne + pathogens
  • The minus sign (-) will ignore terms you request, i.e. flowers-author: flowers
  • Enclose phrases in "double quotes" to force Google to for the exact phrase, i.e. "Toxic Shock Syndrome."
  • Use the Boolean connector OR between search terms to retrieve either term. For instance,
    • hiv OR aids will return either links with “HIV or Aids” in title or full text. Make sure to capitalize the OR.
  • intitle: Use this operator if you only want the term in the title of the article, i.e. intitle:blood.

Advanced Search Feature

The advanced search box is accessed by clicking the triangle in the search box, see images below. 

From the above screen, enter your search term(s) in the appropriate box. Use the drop down to select either anywhere in the article or in the title of the article.

  • Author: Use this box if you know the author you want. Enter first name, then last name. Note: Google may return different authors with the same name, and it is up to you to tell the difference.
  • Publication: Enter the publication (e.g., journal) title you want. You may have to enter the different titles used because Google Scholar only searches for the term you entered. For instance, you may need to enter N Engl J Med OR New England Journal of Medicine.

Search Results explained

Search Results explained

  • Click the title - as long as you connect to Google Scholar through the LRC's ER this will connect you to the article if the LRC has access to it. Other formats of the article are listed as [PDF] to the right. These are usually open access version of the articles.
  • Cited by - performs a search for articles that have the article in the citations.
  • Related articles - performs a new search on articles with similar topics.
  • Import into EndNote - Click on this link to import citation information into an EndNote Library. If presented with an option to "Open" or "Save" the file, select "Open." You may need to select Endnote as the application with which to open this type of file. Endnote will then ask you to select an Endnote library to import the citation into.

Accessing Google Scholar

Access Google Scholar. For USU full text links, complete the setup steps under Full Text Links in this guide.

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Rhonda Allard

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Rhonda J. Allard
James A. Zimble Learning Resource Center • 4301 Jones Bridge Rd. Bethesda, MD 20814 • Main Number: 301-295-3189 • AMI Helpdesk: 301-295-3358

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