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Ekstrom Library

Google Scholar: Understanding Google Scholar

Tips for getting the most out of Google Scholar

Stengths & Limitations of Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a search engine for scholarly literature that includes scholarly journal articles and books, conference papers, theses and dissertations, and more. Google Scholar can be a useful tool for academic research, but it does have some limitations compared to library databases.Strength: Google Scholar can be helpful for beginning research on a topic if you aren't familiar with the language used in scholarship surrounding that topic.Limitation: Not everything you find will be freely available. You might be asked to pay for an article that the library owns.Strength: Google Scholar is easy to use. You can search for scholarly articles using a familiar interface, while it takes some time to get comfortable with library databases.Limitation: Not everything you find is scholarly. There is no way to limit to only peer-reviewed articles like you can in a library database.Strength: Google Scholar is helpful for partial citation searches and searching for obscure references.Limitation: There are fewer limiters in Google Scholar than in a library database, which makes narrowing down your results more difficult.Strength: Google Scholar is very comprehensive and often includes citations to and from technical reports, grey literature, and in-press articles.Limitation: Google Scholar is not transparent about the sources it includes. Library databases have lists of what journals and other source types they include; Google Scholar does not.

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Amber Willenborg

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