Getting the best from Google Scholar

Getting the best from Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a specialist search engine designed especially for the needs of students and researchers. It will only search for scholarly material on the Internet (e.g. peer-reviewed journal articles, books, conference papers, theses and reports). It will not find magazine articles, newspaper articles or materials from websites that are not written by academic researchers.

Google Scholar ranks results according to their quality weighing up the full text of each article, the author, the publication in which the article appears and how often the piece has been cited in other scholarly literature. The most relevant results will always appear on the first page.

The main problems you will face when using Google Scholar for academic study are:

  • Only a small proportion of scholarly research material is available in full text on the web for free. Consequently Google Scholar will find much material for which you cannot access the full text. You will have to check the Library Catalogue to see if we have the material in stock (See below for how you can link Google Scholar to the Library Catalogue and avoid this).
  • Google Scholar provides far less limiting features than our subscription databases. It is not possible to limit your search to full text materials or to a certain type of material e.g. peer-reviewed journal articles.
  • Google Scholar doesn't cover everything! If you rely on it alone for your research and ignore our subscription databases you will miss out on many of the most important materials for your course.

How to increase your chances of finding the information you need using Google Scholar

  • First analyse your topic and choose your search terms (this is the most important step in any search for information!). See the Choose your search terms and Searching techniques section of this guide for more information.
  • Use Advanced Scholar Search. This provides some limiting features to enable you to narrow down your list of results.
  • See the Advanced Scholar Search Tips page for more advice (e.g. phrase searching).
  • Link Google Scholar to the Library Catalogue so that you can access any electronic full text material to which we subscribe directly. See below:
  • If you are working on-campus:
  1. Click on the Scholar Preferences link.
  2. Under the heading Library Links type: University of Bedfordshire. Click the Find Library button and tick the box which appears.
  3. Click the Save Preferences button.
  • If you are working off-campus:

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