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EVR 2001: Introduction to Environmental Science

Using Google Scholar

When using Google Scholar, it is helpful to keep these questions in mind:

  • What features does it have to help me get relevant results?
  • What does this tool do well?
  • What does it do poorly?

As a research tool, Google Scholar is good for many tasks, and not as good for others. When deciding whether to use Google Scholar or one of the library's databases, please keep the following in mind:

Google Scholar is good for...

  • Helping a beginning researcher identify journal titles and authors connected with subjects of interest.
  • Finding "gray literature" like white papers. It includes many articles that wouldn't get included in other indexing services.
  • Locating obscure references that are proving difficult to find in conventional databases.
  • Accessing books and articles in a single search.
  • Locating more information on partial citations.

Google Scholar cannot...

  • Sort/search by disciplinary field
  • Browse by title
  • Limit search results
  • Search the deep web

Keep in Mind:

  • You may get a long list of results, but you will only have access to the text of articles that the Illinois Library has paid subscriptions for, or that are freely available.
  • Not everything in Google Scholar is scholarly. Google Scholar searches academic websites (.edu) as well as journals and publisher websites. Search results can include powerpoints, news annoucements or unpublished materials as well as articles and books. 
  • It is difficult to determine with 100% accuracy all that Google Scholar searches. Therefore, we do not know the breadth of what Google Scholar is indexing and consequently cannot judge the comprehensiveness or completeness of the results of a literature search.
  • We cannot tell how frequently items in Google Scholar are updated.
  • Searching in Google Scholar is imprecise when compared with discipline-specific databases.

Need more Google help?

To get more, in-depth help with Google and all the interesting ways you can use it, visit UWF Libraries Google Research Guide!

Scenario 1: Starting A Search String

  Using AND, OR, and NOT

  • And: narrows your search to look for items containing all keywords
    e.x. coral bleaching AND climate change AND Australia will give you results containing all 3 ideas. 

  • OR: broadens your search by looking for any of the words
    e.x. global warming OR climate change will give you results with either of these words.
  • Let's get crazy!  Want to put multiple commands together? Uses parenthesis to keep similar ideas grouped together!  
    e.x. coral bleaching AND (global warming OR climate change) will give you results about coral bleaching and global warming as well as results about coral bleaching and climate change!
  • Not: narrows your search by eliminating phrases
    e.x. coral NOT bleaching will take away any result that has the word bleaching in it.
  • Be careful using NOT, you may lose content that is still related to your topic simply because you wanted to get rid of items with a specific word.

Scenario 2: Getting Crazy with Advanced Search

To access Advanced Search in Google, run a normal search and select the settings icon located in the top right corner of the screen. Select Advanced search!

You will be given a list of boxes where you can type is more specific search commands.  Beside each box is a brief explanation of how your search will be affected. You don't have to fill out every box!

Scenario 3: Searching for Credible Information

When working on a research assignment, you want to use resources that are trustworthy.  If you aren't using the library's website to find scholarly articles, it can be tricky to tell if what is on the internet is a credible source.  Domains with a ".edu" (e.x. or ".gov" (e.x. are typically trustworthy. You can tell Google to search in specific domains!

E.X. 1: Finding information on  Search:  coral bleaching (do not put a space in!)
E.X. 2: Finding information on any government website:  Search: oil spill (no spaces in
E.X. 3: Finding information from an academic institution: Search: lionfish (no spaces in