Librarians and faculty like to bemoan the fact that students use Google for their research. Who are we kidding? We all use Google if we can get away with it. It’s easy and intuitive and more often than not we get fast results that, if not perfect, “will do”. But, as seasoned researchers, we also know that when we are looking for scholarly articles we need to use the library’s commercial databases, right? Not necessarily. While it’s true that the regular Google search engine is generally not good at finding scholarly material, Google’s specialty search engine, Google Scholar, which searches an academic subset of the Google database, often results in useful peer reviewed articles and books. Critics of Google Scholar will complain that Google Scholar is not clear about its source content and indexing, does not offer sophisticated search options, and that the database favors the sciences and social sciences. These criticisms may be valid, and it is certainly true that Google Scholar does not include the majority of articles found through our library’s databases, but nonetheless it can be a good starting point, especially if you don’t need to do a comprehensive search or find the “best” article in the scholarly literature on a topic.
Because some of the content indexed by Google Scholar is commercial, clicking on an item will often result in only an abstract with the option to buy the article. However, if you access Google Scholar through the Web Search link on the ReSEARCH Station, and your search retrieves an article you want to read that does not provide linked full text, look for the Find It @ Chico link below the citation to navigate to the full text of any article Chico subscribes to. You might recognize The Find It @Chico link as the same tool you use through the library databases to find full text. We can apply the same technology in Google Scholar to help you access full-text, but only if you use the link to Google Scholar through the Library ReSEARCH Station. And remember, even if the full-text is not available through Google Scholar or CSU, Chico, you can order articles you want through Interlibrary Loan
Another useful feature of Google Scholar are the links it provides to other articles within Google Scholar that cite the article you are viewing. This can be a great way to find more articles on a topic.
In conclusion, scholars do let scholars use Google Scholar, and although it doesn’t replace the library databases, it’s a great tool when you want something fast and easy (and scholarly).
Contributed by Sarah Blakeslee