What is Google Scholar?
Google Scholar is a search engine that can find scholarly material such as peer-reviewed journal articles, books, reports, theses and dissertations on the Internet. Google Scholar covers a wide range of disciplines, but is strongest in the technical sciences and weakest in the humanities. Think of Google Scholar as another place to search, in addition to the databases that Willamette offers. With practice, you will be able to use both tools together.
No one can tell us exactly what is in Google Scholar, or how often it is updated. In contrast, subscription databases from this page library databases provide precise descriptions of coverage and currency of information.
What do libraries have to do with Google Scholar?
Libraries are an integral component of Google Scholar. By incorporating “Library Links,” Google Scholar works closely with libraries to provide access to their users. As a Willamette student or affiliate, you can set up Google Scholar so that it displays the Find it @ Willamette links in the results page.
If you are using Google Scholar on on campus, it will recognize that and automatically provide the “library links.” If you are working off campus, set up your Library Links under your settings. Type in Willamette University in the Library Links box and click on the “Find Library” button. Select the item.
What should I do if I’m asked to pay for the full text?
Google Scholar often links to commercial publisher websites which ask you to pay for access. DO NOT PAY FOR ARTICLES! Look for the Find it @ Willamette link. If it turns out that we do not have the article available, you can still request it at no cost by using Interlibrary Loan.
Can I trust the resources listed in Google Scholar?
Not necessarily. You will still need to evaluate what you find because Google Scholar includes material that may not be appropriate for your research. Some of these items include pre-edited articles and reports, as well as theses that may not be as scholarly as other resources. You may also find errors in citation information.
Remember, not all scholarly journals are indexed in Google. Many important journals are not included, so you should not base all of your research on what you find in Google scholar. You may be missing some very important information. Google scholar does not cover material written pre-1990 as well as subscription databases do.
What does “cited by” mean?
After you conduct a search in Google Scholar, you will see some references that include a link which reads Cited by 1410 (or some other number). When you see a link like this, it means that Google Scholar can tell you what sources have used information from this resource.
Be aware that there is currently (as of 2010) a lot of controversy regarding how citations are counted for both Google Scholar and Web of Science. When in doubt, check with your academic department or professor to find out which is preferred.
*(Note: Some material was borrowed from Washington State University.)