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Google Scholar Tips: Home

This LibGuide provides tips and techniques for using Google Scholar.

Google Scholar Tips

What is Google Scholar?

"Google Scholar is primarily a search of academic papers." It "cover[s] academic papers from sensible websites."


"Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research."


"Google Scholar includes journal and conference papers, theses and dissertations, academic books, pre-prints, abstracts, technical reports and other scholarly literature from all broad areas of research. You'll find works from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies and university repositories, as well as scholarly articles available anywhere across the web. Google Scholar also includes court opinions and patents."

Understanding Search Results

Your Google Scholar results come from different, multiple providers. Some providers charge money to see the article, while other providers supply the article for free.


For example, the results in the main body of the page are usually articles from publishers' Web sites. There is often a cost to access the whole article from these sites.


The results in the right-most margin are usually free. These results can be from free Web sites and from library databases. Any time a result in the right-most column says "ViewIt@AlfredState" the article might be available in a library database. Click on "ViewIt@AlfredState" and log in if necessary. You may have to click on a pdf link to see the whole article.


Google Scholar concentrates on journal articles, but some results may be books and book chapters. These types of sources are not usually available for free online: sometimes they are, but not often. Please ask a librarian if you need help getting books and book chapters.

Limit or Sort Results by Date

"Your search results are normally sorted by relevance, not by date. To find newer articles, try the following options in the left sidebar:
click "Since Year" to show only recently published papers, sorted by relevance;
click "Sort by date" to show just the new additions, sorted by date."

You can sort "Since Year" and "Sort by date." "You'll often get better results if you search only recent articles but still sort them by relevance, not by date."

Use Google Scholar to Track Down References

Scholarly articles often use articles, books, and book chapters as sources. These sources are usually cited in the paper and listed in the article's References section; sometimes these sources are cited at the bottom of each individual page. It is an effective search technique to look at the references in an article you already have to see if any of those references could be useful.


You can then search Google Scholar for the title of a reference to try to obtain it. Usually, all you have to do is copy the title of the source into Google Scholar to see if we have that article in a library database. 

Use the "Cited by" Feature to Find Newer Sources

Literature on your topic exists throughout a time contimuum. For example, you may possess an article published three years ago. Its references may be from six years ago. A paper's references will almost always be older than the paper itself.


Google Scholar has a feature that shows what other articles cite an article in their references. The articles that cite the article will almost always be newer than the cited article. Google Scholar calls this feature "Cited by #." You will see this feature at the bottom of many search results: click the "Cited by" link to see newer articles that cite that article. These newer articles might be of use to you in your research. It's very common for researchers to explore articles across different years.

Premade Citations

Google Scholar usually provides suggested citations in five citation styles: MLA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, and Vancouver. Click on the  Cite icon to see these suggested citations. An easy way to use this suggested citation is to select it, copy it, paste it into Word as only text and then format the citation back to how Google Scholar showed it, e.g., putting the journal title in italics. It's often easier to do it this way than paste it directly from the Web and then have to alter Web-formatted text.


Configure Google Scholar to Work from Home

You can configure Google Scholar to work from home, so it links to the full text of articles from the library's databases even off campus.

Here is how to configure Google Scholar:
1. Go to Google Scholar
2. Click on the menu icon in the upper left; it looks like this: 
3. Click on "Settings"
4. Click on "Library links"
5. Type "Alfred State College" in the search box and click on the magnifying glass button
6. Check the boxes before "Alfred State College - ViewIt@AlfredState" and "Alfred State College - ProQuest Fulltext" and click on the "Save" button.

Author Search

You can do an author search in Google Scholar to see what a particular person has published. Put author: immediately followed by the author's name in quotes, for example, author:"n chomsky." Another example is author:"noam chomsky." (Please don't put periods in your search terms; they're just there in my examples to be a grammatical sentences.)

Additional Help

If the article is not available, please check with a librarian to see if we can find it: librarians might have different resources than you. The phone number for the Information Desk at Alfred State College is (607) 587-4313. The librarians share an e-mail address:, so you can e-mail us if you need help.