How to use Google Scholar 

The application of Google Scholar efficiently for preparing assignments, term papers and theses.

What do we know about Google Scholar?

Google Scholar is an internet based search engine which is freely accessible for users look for both
physical and digital copies of articles. It searches an extensive variety of sources such as academic publishers, universities, and preprint depositories seeking for:

  • Abstracts
  • Peer-reviewed articles
  • Books
  • Technical reports
  • Reprints
  • Theses

Furthermore, Google Scholar does search for print and online scholarly information, it is important to understand that the resource is not a database. A database which on the university library is a subscription-based resource that searches for articles that have been published.

How Google Scholar Can Help You

Google Scholar:
  • is easy to search if you are familiar with the Google search engine
  • provides some basic and advanced search options, like a database
  • attempts to help you find the most useful scholarly resources by ranking articles in order of relevance
  • you can search a specific article title in Google Scholar to see how many times it has been cited
  • provides direct access to full text of articles if they are available for free online

Why a Database May be a Better Choice than Google Scholar

  • provide the ability to focus search by subject area
  • allow users to sort results according to date and relevance
  • allow users to sort results by type of material (academic journal, magazine, newspaper, etc.)
  • contain the ability to limit searches by a variety of criteria
  • will never charge you for the full text of an article if the University of Illinois has a subscription to that database

As a student, you have access to countless databases that cover a wide variety of disciplines, areas that may not be represented as well by Google Scholar.

Google Scholar:
  • does not contain an easy way to sort articles in your results list
  • may charge you to view the full text of an article you’ve found
  • does not clearly specify what type of material (academic journal, magazine, newspaper etc.) is in the results list
  • provides full text of some electronic articles but is not as helpful in tracking down print articles
Assess Your Resources:

Whether you get an article from a database or from Google Scholar, make sure to assess it to verify if it suitable what you are seeking for.

  • What is the publication type (is it a journal or a magazine?)?
  • Who is the author and what are their credentials?
  • How recently was it published?
  • Does the information in the article fit your needs?