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Library Research: Google Scholar

A guide to library research
Google Scholar: widen your sources! | ESSEC Knowledge Lab

Add Belmont Abbey College on Google Scholar

Set up your preferences so that you can access the full text of articles available through Belmont Abbey College:

  1. Go to Google Scholar and click on the hamburger button in the top left corner.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Scroll down to the Library Links section and search for Belmont Abbey College in the “Find Library” search box.
  4. Select the box to the left of Belmont Abbey College Library and click Save. 


Now, when, when you do your searches, you will see the Get it from BAC Library link on the right-hand side of the search result.  While on campus you will be taken directly to the full text of the document. If you are off campus, you may have to login with your BAC credentials.

What is Google Scholar?

Google Scholar is a search engine that indexes scholarly literature including journal articles, research reports, dissertations and theses, books, preprints, technical reports, patents, manuscripts in preparation, working papers, and abstracts in all subject areas. Scholar provides articles from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and scholarly articles posted on the web. Scholar also provides citations along with abstracts of the article if it is protected by copyright.

When you do a search in Google Scholar, you get a list of citations. You'll get links to the full text in the following cases:

  • if the BAC Library subscribes to the journal title
  • if it's from an open access journal
  • if the researcher posted the article on her/his website

Remember, Google's goal is to make the world of information accessible and useful. It is up to researchers to critically evaluate research materials.

Pros of Google Scholar

  • Ease of use; similar features of Google web search
  • Search by cited feature
  • Ranking of results
  • Citation information provided
  • Search vast array of information; technical reports, preprints, societal publications
  • Full-text if available

Cons of Google Scholar

  • Full-text not available or restriction access without a subscription
  • If off-campus, must first access via A-Z Database List or set up Library Links in Scholar.
  • Uneven coverage in social sciences, better for hard sciences
  • No limiter for just scholarly publications
  • Few options to limit or narrow search results

Google Scholar Weighting System

"Google Scholar aims to rank documents the way researchers do, weighing the full text of each document, where it was published, who it was written by, as well as how often and how recently it has been cited in other scholarly literature." The most relevant results will always appear on the first page. See for more info.

Google Scholar Search

How to Use Google Scholar

Use Boolean Operators to refine your search terms

  • the "-" operator excludes all results that include this search term, as in [biomedicine -magnetic]
  • phrase search only returns results that include this exact phrase, as in ["as you like it"]
  • the "~" operator will find synonyms for that word, as in [~robotics]
  • the "OR" operator returns results that include either of your search terms, as in [soccer OR football]
  • the "intitle:" operator as in [intitle:mars] only returns results that include your search term in the document's title
  • the "author" operator [author:flowers] returns papers written by people with the name Flowers, whereas [flowers -author:flowers] returns papers about flowers, and ignores papers written by people with the name Flowers
  • using quotes around a common word makes sure your results include common words, letters or numbers that Google's search technology generally ignores, as in ["the" border]

Author Search

Enter one or more names in the "Return articles authored by" box to search for specific authors.

  • Use quotation marks when searching for a first name or initials along with the last name to ensure all will appear in the same name.
    •  "michael b jordan"      "m b jordan"
  • Enter initials with or without a space between them.
    • "m b jordan"     "mb jordan"
  • The order of the first and last name makes little difference to the search.
    • "michael jordan"      "jordan michael"

Journal Title Search

To return results from a particular journal or publication, enter the publication title as either:

  • full title: The Historical Journal
  • abbreviation: Hist J

Note:  Journal titles may be abbreviated in more than one way. Searching abbreviations will not return records with the full title, and vice versa. To be thorough, search both the full title and alternative forms of abbreviation:

  • Hist J ;  THJ  ;  The Historical J  

Phrase Search

  • Entering terms in the "with the exact phrase" box will search for the phrase exactly as it was entered.
  • Use quotation marks in any other box to specify an exact phrase you want to search for or exclude.

Automatic Related Term Searching

Google Scholar automatically searches for simple singular and plural forms of terms you enter, along with additional different endings to some words, and for some related terms.  For example:

sport   returns     sport ;  sports
diet     returns       diet ;  diets ;  dietary
woman  may return   woman  or  woman ;  women ;  female

The number of related terms included in the results may depend on the search being conducted. This feature cannot be turned off, but you can use the Boolean operator NOT to restrict specific words:

"woman dietary needs NOT female" will only return articles that do not include the word female.

Pro Tips
  • Use the advanced search features to combine or limit search terms and to search by author, publication or date.
  • Use Google Scholar to find out how many times and when an article has been cited in other scholarly literature from all disciplines.