Using Google Scholar for finding research

One of the biggest challenges for students is how to find good scholarly research. I have spoken with several of my doctoral students about this recently. Although the availability of electronic library resources are much better than in the past, I still find using library databases cumbersome and clunky. Instead, I recommend using Google School for finding research.

I want my students using empirical research to support their arguments when writing papers. However, I don’t want them to waste a lot of time trying to find research articles and books.

To that end, I recommend using Google School for finding research. Specifically, I find the following 4 advantages using Google Scholar helpful for students and faculty alike.

1.  Easy user interface

Using Google is so simple that my 1st grader knows how to use it. Even the best library databases can’t compete on usability. Google Scholar essentially functions like Google so you can immediately figure out how to use it.

2.  Find articles that cite your search results

One of the most powerful and helpful tools for students is to see what publications have cited your search results. For example, if you find an article in your search that looks helpful, you can see other publications that have cited that article. This can prove useful in finding relevant research. Additionally, a large number of other articles citing a publication can give you a sense of the significance of the work.

3.  Link directly to articles from Google Scholar

On many campuses, you can link directly from Google Scholar to an article.  This functionality typically only works on campus, but it can be a huge benefit over searching individual databases for an article.  If you’re off campus, you will simply have to log into the specific journal to access the article.  Although this isn’t as easy as a direct link, I still find searching in Google Scholar and logging in for the article easier than fighting the various library databases.

4.  Find publications that your institution doesn’t have available

This is my favorite function of Google Scholar.  For obvious reasons, most library databases only bring up references to journals and books that the library owns. Google Scholar will bring up everything and I have found this invaluable for finding sources. If I find something useful, I submit an interlibrary loan request to gain access. I find this particularly helpful for finding relevant articles from international journals.

Using Google Scholar for finding research can save you time and frustration in the writing process. I highly recommend students and faculty use the search engine for identifying sources for writing research papers.