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Information Literacy Graduates: Google Scholar

Google Scholar vs Google

Google Scholar is a very large multidisciplinary database. Estimations are that GS contained about 160 million publications in 2013. Google Scholar focuses on the scholarly literature available on the Internet. This includes, articles, theses, books, abstracts found on the websites of academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and more. Google has a broader scope, and retrieves resources regardless of where online they come from. So search results found in Google will on the whole not be scholarly.

Google Scholar vs individual library databases

There is overlap. Also many citations in Google Scholar will link to the full text in the Library's databases. But GS does not contain everything that is in the Library's databases! Which makes it a convenient starting place, but not a comprehensive "one-stop shop". For more precise searching, more search features and more content, use the Library's individual databases.

​Utrecht University Library published a LibGuide giving a critical assessment of the pros and cons of Google Scholar as a search engine to find scholarly publications. 

Google Scholar records

Google Scholar presents the search results as short records. Often the only information you get is the title of the publication. This makes it difficult to decide whether the article is relevant or not.

Example of a GS record:

When you access GS through the University of Groningen Library network you will get a link to the licensed full-text, if available. When you work from another location you have to install the library link facility first to be able to get to the full text.

Besides access to the full text (when available), the record also provides information about other publications that cite the publication. Both links can lead you to other literature about your topic:

- Cited by lists the publications that cited this publication.
- Related articles finds documents similar to the given search result.

Google Scholar also features another type of record. These start off with the word CITATION. Google found them in a reference list and did not see the full text. An example: 

Google Scholar

Advanced search

You will find the advanced search via the menu on the left. 

The advanced search in Google Scholar has fewer options to limit your search than most other databases.

Sort by date does not sort by date of publication, but by date that Google found the publication. You can click "Since Year" to show only recently published papers, sorted by relevance.

Installing the library link

When you want to set Google Scholar to show which publications are available via the University of Groningen:

  • Select ‘Settings’ (in the menu on the left)
  • Select ‘Library links’
  • Search for: university groningen
  • Tick: University of Groningen Library – Get It! Univ of Groningen (un-tick other options)

You will now be able to see, via the Get it! link, whether a document is available through the RUG.

N.B. If you are working via the University network, these links are automatically selected.