Why You Should be Using Google Scholar


In need of new ways to improve the effectiveness of your postgraduate research?

You're going to love Google Scholar...

What is Google Scholar?

Google Scholar is the perfect tool for anyone conducting academic research, no matter what the subject area. By searching through a plethora of scholarly literature in order to find just what you are looking for, you don't have to wade through the entire log of internet content to get results. Google Scholar will search books, articles, theses, court opinions, extracts, and all sorts of other useful resources to find you the most relevant and reliable information.

Why is Google Scholar so Great?

  • It is super simple to use. If you are familiar with Google search, you will be able to master Google Scholar
  • Provides both basic and advanced search functions
  • Ranks the most useful scholarly resources according to relevance
  • You can search Google Scholar for a specific article title to see how often it has been cited
  • If the full article is available for free online, Google Scholar will provide you with direct access to the resource
  • Links directly into thousands of library resources, meaning you might be able to locate a book reference that is available in your university or city library

How to Get the Most out of Google Scholar?

Google Scholar is an extremely powerful tool, and just like any other tool, there are tips and techniques that you can utilise in order to get the most from it.

Finding Recent Papers – The results are automatically sorted by order of relevance to the search words as this is the standard setting. However, sometimes you will need to look for the most recent documents relating to your search. Luckily, Google Scholar caters for this requirement. Simply click on the options on the left sidebar and alter the search parameters. You can click “Since Year” if you want to find recent results that are sorted by relevance, or “Sort by Date” if you wish the results to be entirely sorted by time order. You can also request new search results to be emailed directly to your inbox by clicking the envelope icon.

Finding the Full Text Article - Most articles have free extracts available for you to read, however reading the full article may require a subscription. There may be ways around this though so try these ideas first:

  • Click a library link to the right of the search result
  • Click a link labelled [PDF]
  • Under the search result click “All Versions” to see if there are any alternative results
  • Click “Cited by” or “Related Articles” to see if any other results show up

Sometimes you will be able to access subscription-based papers by logging on through your university or local library computers.

Getting Better Results

  • Using the correct technical terminology will greatly increase your chances of finding relevant academic papers. You can use Wikipedia to find the scientific name for your search requirement and use this in the search to get more results – e.g. searching for the term ‘pediatric hyper alimentation’ instead of ‘overweight’.

  • If the results you are getting are too specific for your needs, try looking at papers that have been cited in the “references” section. More often than not these referenced papers are more general in their content.

  • The reverse also works well too, so if your results are not specific enough, look at the “cited by” section of the article to see who has recently used parts of the article for their own work.

Have you tried using Google Scholar for your postgraduate study? What do you think?

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