What is Google Scholar?


Google Scholar is a web resource that allows users to search for journal articles, citations, theses, preprints and book availability on the web. Materials located using Google Scholar come from a wide variety of sources, including:

  • Selected academic publishers
  • Selected Professional society publishers
  • Preprint repositories
  • Universities
  • Scholarly articles available across the open web

For books, Google Scholar uses OCLC'S Open WorldCat to determine if libraries in the area (including the University of Minnesota Libraries) own a particular title.

Google Scholar is useful as a jumping off point for your research, but to do in-depth research, you need to use a subject specific database provided by the University of Minnesota Libraries. If you are not sure which resource to use, try QuickStart, a library guide to resources in specific subjects.

It is a good rule of thumb to search several different databases when doing academic research.


  1. Google Scholar does not provide a complete list of publishers, professional societies or other organizations that they are partnering with.
    1. The following is a list of the partners of Google Scholar that are known:
    2. IEEE http://www.ieee.com
    3. Association of Computing Machinery http://www.acm.org
    4. OCLC's (Online Computer Library Center) Open WorldCat http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/open/default.htm
  2. Google is not releasing the parameters it considers when determining if a source is scholarly or not.
    1. You will need to look at the source and decide if it is scholarly or not. It is always a good idea to evaluate your sources.
    2. For more information, check out our tutorial on Evaluating Sources at: http://tutorial.lib.umn.edu/infomachine.asp?moduleID=9.
  3. Google Scholar currently lacks the ability to easily focus your search with features that are specifically designed for a given discipline.
    1. Comprehensive, highly developed subject databases are a much better choice when you need both reliable access and sophisticated search techniques.
    2. The following is a list of sample search limits that can be made in a few of the subject databases subscribed to by the University Libraries:
      • Human subjects in PSYCHINFO
      • Class of organism in BIOLOGICAL ABSTRACTS
      • Chemical properties in SCIFINDER SCHOLAR
      • Treatment in MEDLINE

To access the subject databases, go to the Libraries ARTICLE INDEXES page at: https://www.lib.umn.edu/indexes.


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