Frequently Asked Questions
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
- 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.
A COUPLE OF THINGS TO BE AWARE OF WHEN USING GOOGLE SCHOLAR:
1. Google Scholar does not provide a complete list of publishers, professional societies or other organizations that they are partnering with.
The following is a list of the partners of Google Scholar that are known:
A. IEEE http://www.ieee.com
B. Association of Computing Machinery http://www.acm.org
C. 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.
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.
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.
Comprehensive, highly developed subject databases are a much better choice when you need both reliable access and sophisticated search techniques.
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:
A. Human subjects in PSYCHINFO
B. Class of organism in BIOLOGICAL ABSTRACTS
C. Chemical properties in SCIFINDER SCHOLAR
D. Treatment in MEDLINE
To access the subject databases, go to the Libraries ARTICLE INDEXES page at: http://www.lib.umn.edu/indexes.