What is Google Scholar?

This is part of a regular series of articles exploring some of the terms used in e-learning (view other articles in the series).  We’ll do our best to break down the jargon and explain what things are from a basic perspective.

Google Scholar is our item of interest today. It would be hard to have not heard of Google (just in case, it’s the most popular search tool on the internet).  But you may not have heard of Google Scholar.  Or if you did, then you may not have known what it was.

Google Scholar is a tool developed by Google which only searches across scholarly content such as journal articles, conference presentations, and academic books.  When you do a search in Google Scholar, all the scholarly entries which match your search will be returned. Along with the name, list of authors, and the part of the text which matches your search terms, there will also be citation information from other scholarly works listed in Google and links to related articles.

Example Google Scholar results screen

Example Google Scholar results screen

To access Google Scholar, you can visit http://scholar.google.com. It’s also available by just going  to the front page of Google and accessing their list of tools which appear along the top.  It’s in the more menu.  You might see some other tools which interest you there as well.

Where possible Google Scholar provides a link to the original paper for download.  However, many older academic works are not available online, and may appear simply as a reference.  Also in many cases online journal articles or e-books require a subscription to access them.  When you are on campus, you will automatically have access to any articles that the university subscribes to.  Off campus you will need to login before you get access to the article.  However, you are likely to encounter some sources which you will not be able to access when using Google Scholar.

To see which articles have full-text available for SHU users, look for a link which says  ‘Full Text via SHU Links’ or ‘Find via SHU Links’. Clicking these links should load a page which allows you to access full-text (if it is available), search in the library catalogue, or request the item be ordered if we do not have access. 

When you are on campus, you will see the two messages about SHU Links automatically.  Off campus, if you want to see these links into our library catalogue, then you can either access Google Scholar from the Library Gateway (in which case the SHU Links appear automatically) or you can click Google Scholar Preferences at the top of the page to add our library to your Google view. In the Library Links section, search for Sheffield Hallam. Select the boxes that appear and click Save Preferences. Then you should have access to those links off campus too, though you may be requested to login with your SHU login when downloading full text articles.

Some educational uses of Google Scholar:

  • It’s useful for finding scholarly content when engaging in scholarship and research.
  • It’s an effective way of searching across multiple journals at once, and is especially useful when you don’t know what journals to look through. 
  • It can be promoted to students as a way to search for content of an appropriate academic standard, rather than random websites they may have found.
  • By following article citation links and links to related articles, Google Scholar can empower students in the process of finding related works.  It’s the online equivalent of wandering the library bookshelves, but with much more content on the shelves.

Read more articles related to Google Scholar on the SHU Learning & Information Services blog.

6 thoughts on “What is Google Scholar?

    • Thanks for the feedback! We’re glad you’re finding them useful. The ‘What is a’ series was created based on staff feedback. So if anyone has more ideas for either terms we could explain, or different sorts of articles we should provide, please let us know.

  1. I think it’s useful to point out that for students and staff wishing to use Google Scholar then the best place to access it is from the Library Gateway.

    This way, you bypass the complicated steps mentioned in the final paragraphs here, and SHU Links will appear automatically.

  2. Pingback: What is SHURA? « e-learning at Sheffield Hallam

  3. Pingback: Micro-research: An Approach to Teaching and Learning | e-learning at Sheffield Hallam

Leave a Reply