Google Scholar is Your Friend

Last week Jon Jeffryes and I taught a Google for Researchers workshop. The outline of this particular workshop has always been fluid--we change it whenever Google releases something new that we think students, faculty, and staff will find useful. This time, at Jon's suggestion, we put eight possible topics up on the screen and asked the students to use clickers to vote on what we should cover first. Top vote-getter in the first round: Google Scholar. Most people had heard of it, but didn't know how it differed from using the main Google search.

Google Scholar is similar to the databases licensed by University Libraries in that it indexes scholarly articles from publishers and societies with whom it has relationships. Google Scholar also indexes scholarly articles and technical reports from other places, like institutional repositories and departmental websites at colleges and universities. I've seen articles from both the University Digital Conservancy and the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory pop up on Google Scholar.

Google Scholar doesn't have the rich search tools found in licensed databases. You won't find faceted search tools where you can click on terms to quickly filter a search. Even the advanced search form is quite limited. But Google Scholar really shines when you have a full or partial citation you need to track down, when you're looking for paper from a conference proceedings or a technical report, or when you want to see the preprint version of a not-yet-published article.

Like licensed databases, Google Scholar sometimes links directly to the full text of the articles it indexes. Often, though, you'll only get to see an abstract. Don't despair--if University Libraries has access to the article, you're only a couple of clicks away from reading it. The only trick is to make sure Google Scholar knows you're affiliated with the University of Minnesota.

Jon posted instructions on how to "turn on" the FindIt@U of M Twin Cities link a few months back. If you're using Google Scholar and not seeing the link, take a couple of minutes to follow the steps Jon's laid out.

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