Shall I Use Google Scholar?

Highlight: Google Scholar provides a fast and easy interface to search for online scholarly resources. However, bear in mind that most of the research materials are hidden in publishers' databases and journals that Google's spiders can't crawl.

If you do find scholarly materials using Google Scholar, don't purchase anything without first checking if the UCSD Libraries have already subscribed to the materials. If you are on campus or off campus but have activated the proxy access, you should be able to access the articles found in Google Scholar by clicking on the article links if we subscribe to the materials. Questions? contact a librarian.


Google Scholar FAQs

What is Google Scholar?
What areas of scholarly research are covered by Google Scholar?
How do I get the articles or books found in Google Scholar?
What does 'Cited by' mean?
Can I search within a specific journal or search for articles written by a particular author?
Why do some titles have links to abstracts and/or full text and others do not?
Why am I being asked to pay to access a full text article?
I'm not finding the information I need. Where else can I search for online full text documents?
Where can I get more help?


What is Google Scholar?
Google Scholar is the newest offering from Google that searches for scholarly materials such as peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from broad areas of research. Google Scholar searches a variety of undisclosed academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web. Much of the content is available in full-text, while in some instances abstracts with links to pay-for document delivery services are displayed.

While we encourage you to try Google Scholar, keep in mind that this software is 'in Beta.' Beta status indicates that Google Scholar is still in development, and you may therefore encounter some inconsistencies or peculiarities. You may wish to supplement your research by searching some of the many other databases found on the Article Databases A-Z page.

What areas of scholarly research are covered by Google Scholar?
Google Scholar searches a specific subset of Google's index and covers a wide range of academic content areas; however many publishers and vendors do not allow Google Scholar's spiders to crawl their databases, therefore, Google Scholar's search results do not include research articles found in many of the UCSD-subscribed article databases. Just as with Google's standard Web Search, Google Scholar ranks and lists results according to how relevant they are to the search query. The most relevant references should theoretically appear at the top of the page.

How do I get the articles or books found in Google Scholar?

First click on the article link to see if you can obtain the full article directly. Many of the articles reside on publishers' databases, which are restricted to subscribers. If the UCSD Libraries subscribe to the materials, you can access them on campus, and off campus by setting up proxy access.

Another method to get the articles or books is to use the "UC-eLinks" feature. The University of California has established a partnership with Google that enables the UC community to link to UC-subscribed online and print materials from within Google Scholar by clicking on the "UC-eLinks" textual link. Clicking on UC-eLinks allows you to get the materials online or see if they are at the UCSD Libraries. You can also fill out an online form to Request that the items be delivered to you if the libraries don't have the materials.

What does 'Cited by' mean?
Clicking the 'Cited by' link will display a list of articles and documents that have cited the document originally retrieved in the search. This makes it possible to uncover other documents related by topic or subject to the original document. However, Google Scholar only includes articles that are indexed within its database, and this is a much smaller subset of scholarly articles than found in some other UCSD-subscribed databases. Some databases that include citation-based searching, and that may yield more comprehensive results include:

Can I search within a specific journal or search for articles written by a particular author?
Yes! Use Google Scholar's Advanced Search to search by author, publication, and date. Increase the accuracy and effectiveness of Google Scholar searches by checking out Advanced Scholar Search Tips .

Why do some titles have links to abstracts and/or full text and others do not?
Search results may include citations [CITATION], books [BOOK], PDFs [PDF] and PostScript documents [PS]. PDF and PostScript documents will have clickable title links that point to abstracts or full-text, but citations and books will not.

Citations are items that have been extracted from the references, footnotes or bibliographies of documents indexed by Google Scholar. However, Google Scholar may not index the citations in its database, and therefore they do not have clickable links. Clicking on 'Web Search' will start a search for the citation using the standard Google search engine. Using the Libraries' Databases A-Z page to locate a subject-specific or multidisciplinary database may produce more reliable results.

Books appear in search results when a document indexed by Google Scholar references a book. Google Scholar creates a book result, but doesn't link to the actual book. Clicking on 'Library Search' will start a search of OCLC WorldCat and try to locate the book in a local library. A 'Web Search' will start a search using the standard Google search engine, and will often lead to Amazon and other commercial sites where books may be purchased. Searching the Catalog is a good way to find out if UCSD Libraries has a particular book.

What is the difference between 'Library Search' and 'Web Search'?
Clicking on 'Library Search' will start a search of OCLC WorldCat and try to locate the book in a local library. A 'Web Search' will start a search using the standard Google search engine, and will often lead to Amazon and other commercial sites where books may be purchased.

Why am I being asked to pay to access a full-text article?
Some of the links in Google Scholar will lead to full-text documents contained within subscription-based databases that UCSD Libraries may or may not subscribe to. If the item is contained within an unsubscribed database, there may be an option to purchase the article. UCSD students, faculty and staff should check to make sure if the items are available at UCSD Libraries by using the Catalog or one of the databases in Databases A-Z. If we don't have the item in the libraries, you may request it through Document Delivery. Don't pay without checking with us!

I'm not finding the information I need. Where else can I search for online full-text documents?
Sage collects subject-specific resources in one place. Select a subject of your choice, and click on the Article Databases link in the blue menu bar. You will find a list of article databases in the subject you have chosen.

Listed below are some popular full-text databases:

Where can I get more help?
Having difficulty finding what you need? Ask a librarian!

Adapted from "Google Scholar FAQs," published by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries.