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How to Use Google More Effectively

Boolean operators, site searches, & country internet codes are just a few of the things we cover to help improve your searches.

What is Google Scholar?

Google Scholar is a search engine for scholarly literature and other various academic materials. With Google Scholar you are able to search for a variety of materials, such as articles, theses, books, abstracts, and court opinions. These come from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities, and other websites.

How Does This Differ From a Regular Google Search?

The regular Google search is used to explore the open web for any type of information. This means that in order to find scholarly or academic sources you will have to sift through hundreds of thousands of other potentially less credible sources. Google Scholar is a separate search that seeks out academic and scholarly materials. It can be used in the same way that many of our databases are used, but you do not have to log in or pay to see a significant amount of the material that is found. 


To learn more about Google Scholar, click through the tabs below, or go to the following link:

Google Scholar

To access Google Scholar go to http://scholar.google.com. Once here, it is highly recommended that you sign in using a Gmail account. This will allow you to save articles for viewing at a later time, and access articles that are available within the NECC library databases directly from this site.

To log in to a Gmail account from this screen, click the "Sign In" button, or the circular logo, in the top right corner of the page.

Google Scholar home page

Once you are logged in, click the three bars in the top left corner of the screen to open a menu and select "Settings."

Google Scholar settings link

Next, click on "Library links." You can enter the name of any academic libraries that you are affiliated with. In our case, we simply entered "Northern Essex Community College Library." Also, if the "Open WorldCat" box is selected, please unselect it. This resource is more confusing then it is helpful. Be sure to click "save" before you navigate away from this screen. 

.Google Scholar settings screen

Now, when performing searches in Google Scholar you can be connected with the articles as they are available in the NECC library databases.

Now enter your search terms in the box and click the magnifying glass to search. 

Google Scholar search screen with endangered species act typed in

It is important to remember that you will not always be able to access the articles that these searches return. Always be sure to check out the links that show up to the right of the search result. Any items that have a link saying "Link Source" (outlined in red in the illustration below) will take you to the article in the NECC library databases. If you click on the Link Source link for the article titled "Pacific salmon, Oncorhynchus spp., and the definition of" species" under the Endangered Species Act" you will find the article housed in the Academic Search Complete database.

If you are doing these searches from a computer off-campus then you may be prompted to enter your NECC username and password to access the databases. 

Google Scholar search results for the endangered species act

In most cases, if there is some form of a link to the right side of your search results you will be able to access those articles. You never know unless you try. If you are interested in an article that comes up but does not link to the full-text please, ask a librarian. Often times we are able to find articles through other avenues. 

Once your results are returned you may notice the six (or more) icons/links directly underneath each article. These are useful tools that can help you to organize, cite, and locate results. For a complete explanation of these icons/links, please see below. 

Google Scholar search results list with the tools highlighted

Google Scholar star symbol
The star symbol allows for you to save materials to your library to read or access at a later point in time. Simply click the star and the resource is saved. For more information about how this feature works see the "Saving Articles for Later" box located further down this page. 

Google Scholar citation tool
Clicking this symbol will return you a list of citations for the article itself. As always, please check any automatically generated citations, they are often incorrect. 

Google Scholar tools "cited by" 
If you click the "cited by" link you will be taken to a listing of any articles that have cited this specific article in their references. This is a great way to find related articles, and sometimes more current material.

Google Scholar tools "related articles"
If you click the "related articles" button you will be rewarded with even more results that are similar to the article that you are currently looking at. This is another great way to expand your search. 

Google Scholar tools "All versions"
This link will open up a listing of all locations of the article you are looking for. This is a great way to try to locate a copy of something that you are trying to get ahold of. 

The best way to find the most relevant and recent articles is to perform your search and then narrow the result down by selecting a time period. This can be done by inserting a custom date range or selecting one of the preset ranges from the list on the left-hand side of the screen. 

Google Scholar sort within a range of dates (since 2017)

Another way to narrow your results by date is to use the "sort by date" feature. Most searches will return a results list sorted by relevance, but sorting by date will allow you to retrieve the most recent items. ‚Äč

Google Scholar sort by date

Please note that sorting by date rather than by relevance does not necessarily mean that you will get the most relevant material, but that you will simply get the information that was published the most recent first.

You can do an advanced search using Google Scholar just as you can with a regular Google search. To access the advanced search menu, click the three lines in the upper left corner of the screen and select "advanced search" from the drop-down menu. A window will pop-up and allow you to fill in a variety of fields.

Google Scholar advanced search screen

From here simply fill in the information that you would like to include or exclude from your search. This is a great way to search for articles from specific publications, or if you only know the author or authors.

If you are interested in receiving results as they are published, you may wish to create an alert. This will send you an email with links to the results as frequently as the materials become available. 

Once you have your search terms and date range in place, click the button labeled "create alert." In the next screen, you will be prompted to verify your search query and email address, as well as select the number of results you wish to receive. Once that is verified, click "create alert" and your task is complete.  

Google Scholar create an alertGoogle Scholar create an alert

To save articles to read at a later point in time, simply click the small star located below the article(s) you are interested in. This saves them to your library. To access your library at any time click the "My Library" link located in the top right corner of the screen. 

Google Scholar save to "My Library"

Once you are in your library you can sort through your saved articles, delete them, or tag them with helpful labels that you create. All of these functions are performed by placing a checkmark in the box to the left of the article title and then using the toolbar located at the top of the screen. Find yourself having too much in your library? Not a problem. You can easily search through your library using the "search my library" bar at the top of the screen. 

Google Scholar "My Library" view


To cite this LibGuide use the following templates:

APA: Northern Essex Community College Library. (Date updated). Title of page. Title of LibGuide. URL

MLA: Northern Essex Community College Library. "Title of Page." Title of LibGuide, Date updated, URL.